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Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1909. 

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Zo tbe ZlDemorE of 

/IDs Son 

Ubeooortcfc 3Blano pr^or 

/ stood at dawn by a limitless sea 

And watched the rose creep over the gray ; 

Till the heavens were a glowing canopy ! 
This was my day ! 

The pale stars stole away, one by one — 

Like sensitive souls from the presence of Pride : 

The moon hung low, looking back, as the sun 
Rose over the tide. 

And he, like a King, came up from the Sea ! 

He opened my rose — unfettered my song — 
And quickened a heart to be true to me 

All the day long. 

The soul that was born of a song and flower 
Of tender dawn-flush, and shadowy gray, 

Was strengthened by Love for a bitter hour 
That chilled my day. 

I had dwelt in the garden of the Lord ! 

I had gathered the sweets of a summer day : 
I was called to stand where a flaming sword 

Turned every way. 

It spared not the weak — nor the strong — nor the dear . 

And following fast, like a phantom band. 
Famine and Fever and shuddering Fear 

Swept o'er the land. 

They whispered that Hope, the angel of light, 

Would spread her white wings and speed her away ; 

But she folded me close in my longest night 
And darkest day. 

As of old, when the fire and tempest had passed, 

And an earthquake had riven the rocks, the Word 

In a still small voice rose over the blast — 
The Voice of the Lord. 

And the Voice said : "Take up your lives again ! 

Quit yourselves manfully ! Stand in your lot! 
Let the Famine, the Fever, the Peril, the Pain, 

Be all forgot ! 

** Weep no more for the lovely, the brave, 

The young head pillowed on a blood-stained sod ; 

The daisy that grows on the soldier's grave 
Looks up to God ! 

" The soul of the patriot-soldier stands 

With a mighty host in eternal calm, 
And He who pressed the sword to his hands 

Has given the Palm." 

And now I stand with my face to the west, 
Shading mine eyes, for my glorious sun 

Is splendid again as he sinks to his rest — 
His day is done. 

I have lost my rose, forgotten my song, 

But the true heart that loved me is mine alway j 

The stars are alight — the way not long — 
/ had my day ! 

No-vernier 8, igo8. 


iviis. i\.ugci n.. liyur. iium a 11 

Residence of Dr. S. P. Hargrave 
Mrs. Fanny Bland Randolph 
University of Virginia . 
Stephen A. Douglas 
William Walker . 


IjJll, 1 







• 75 



Washington in 1845 . 
General Robert E. Lee in 1861 



Theodorick Bland Pryor 
William Rice Pryor 
Charlotte Cushman 




Helena Modjeska 
General Hancock 



General Sheridan 


Mrs. Vincenzo Botta . 


Judge Roger A. Pryor in 1900 . 





I AM constrained to encourage a possible reader 
by assuring him that I have no intention what- 
ever of writing strictly an autobiography. 
Nothing in myself nor in my life would warrant me 
in so doing. 

I might, perhaps, except the story of the Civil 
War, and my part in the trials and sorrows of my 
fellow-women, but this story I have fully and truly 
told in my " Reminiscences of Peace and War." 

My countrymen were so kind to these first stories 
that I feel I may claim some credentials as a " bab- 
bler of Reminiscences." Besides, I have lived in 
the last two-thirds of the splendid nineteenth cen- 
tury, and have known some of the men and women 
who made that century notable. And I would fain 
believe with Mr. Trollope that " the small records 
of an unimportant individual life, the memories which 
happen to linger in the brain of the old like bits of 
drift-wood floating round and round in the eddies 
of a back-water, can more vividly than anything 
else bring before the young of the present genera- 

2 My Day 

tion those ways of acting and thinking and talking 
in the everyday affairs of life which indicate the 
differences between themselves and their grand- 

But I shall have more than this " floating drift- 
wood" to reward the reader who will follow me to 
the end of my story! 

Writers of Reminiscences are interested — per- 
haps more interested than their readers — in recall- 
ing their earliest sensations, and through them 
determining at what age they had " found them- 
selves " ; i.e. become conscious of their own person- 
ality and relation to the world they had entered. 

Long before this time the child has seen and 
learned more perhaps than he ever learned after- 
wards in the same length of time. He has 
acquired knowledge of a language sufficient for 
his needs. His miniature world has been, in 
many respects, a foreshadowing of the world he 
will know in his maturity. He has learned that he 
is a citizen of a country with laws, — some of which 
it will be prudent to obey, — such as the law against 
taking unpermitted liberties with the cat, or touching 
the flame of the candle ; while other laws may be 
evaded by cleverness and discreet behavior. He 
finds around him many things ; pictures on walls, 
for instance, that may be admired but never touched, 
— -other lovely things that may be handled and even 
kissed, but must be returned to mantels and tables, 
— and yet others, not near as delightful as these, 
"poor things but his own," to be caressed or beaten, 
or even broken at his pleasure. He has learned to 

Introductory 3 

indulge his natural taste for the drama. His nurse 
covers her head with a paper and becomes the dread- 
ful, groaning villain behind it, while the baby girds 
himself for attack, tears the disguise from the vil- 
lain, and shouts his victory. As he learns the 
names and peculiarities of animals, the scope of the 
drama widens. He is a spirited horse, snorting and 
charging along, or — if his picture-books have been 
favorable — a roaring lion from whom the nurse 
flees in terror. Of the domestic play there is infi- 
nite variety — nursing in sickness, the doctor, baby- 
tending, cooking, — and once, alas ! I heard a baby 
girl of eighteen months enact a fearful quarrel be- 
tween man and wife, ending firmly " I leave you ! 
I never come back ! " 

These natural tendencies of children would seem 
to prove that the soul or mind of man can be 
" fetched up from the cradle " — a phrase for which 
I am indebted to one of my contemporaries, Mr. 
Leigh Hunt, who in turn quoted it as a popular 
phrase in his late (and my early) day. But with 
the single exception of the spoken language all 
these childish plays have been successfully taught 
to our humble brothers ; to our poor relation the 
monkey, the dog, elephant, seal, canary bird — 
even to fleas. All these are capable of enacting a 
short drama. The elephant, longing for his bottle, 
never rings his bell too soon. The dog remembers 
his cue, watches for it, and never anticipates it. 
The seal, more wonderful than all, born as he has 
been without arms or legs, mounts a horse for a 
ride, and waits for his umbrella to be poised on his 

4 My Day 

stubby nose. Even the creature whose name is a 
synonym for vulgar stupidity has been taught to 
indicate with porcine ringer the letters which spell 
that name. 

With these and other animals we hold in common 
our faculty of imitation, our memory, affection, an- 
tipathy, revenge, gratitude, passionate adoration of 
one special friend, and even the perception of music 
— the infant will weep and the poodle howl in re- 
sponse to the same strain in a minor key — and yet, 
notwithstanding this common lot, this common in- 
heritance, there is born for us and not for them a 
moment when some strange unseen power breathes 
into us something akin to consciousness of a living 

Having no past as a standard for the reasonable 
and natural, nothing surprises children. They are 
simply witnesses of a panorama in the moving scenes 
of which they have no part. When I was three 
years old, I visited my grandfather in Charlotte 
County. The Staunton River wound around his 
plantation and I was often taken out rowing with 
my aunts. One day the canoe tipped and my pretty 
Aunt Elizabeth fell overboard. Without the slight- 
est emotion I saw her fall, and saw her recovered. 
For aught I knew to the contrary it was usual and 
altogether proper for young ladies to fall in rivers 
and be fished out by their long hair. But another 
event, quite ordinary, overwhelmed me with the 
most passionate distress. Having, a short time be- 
fore, advanced a tentative finger for an experimental 
taste of an apple roasting for me at my grandfather's 

Introductory 5 

fire, I was prepared to be shocked at seeing a colony 
of ants rush madly about upon wood a servant was 
laying over the coals. My cries of distress arrested 
my grandfather as he passed through the room. He 
quickly ordered the sticks to be taken off, and call- 
ing me to a seat in front of him, said gravely : " We 
will try these creatures and see if they deserve pun- 
ishment. Evidently they have invaded our country. 
The question is, did they come of their own accord, 
or were they while enjoying their rights of life and 
liberty, captured by us and brought hither against 
their will?" My testimony was gravely taken. I 
was quite positive I had seen the sticks, swarming 
with ants, laid upon the fire. " Uncle Peter," who 
had brought in the wood, was summoned and sharply 
cross-questioned. Nothing could shake him. To 
the best of his knowledge and belief, " them ants 
nuvver come 'thouten they was 'bleeged to," and 
so, as they were by this time wildly scampering over 
the floor, they were gently admonished by a per- 
suasive broom to leave the premises. Uncle Peter 
was positive they would find their way home with- 
out difficulty, and I was comforted. 

I remember this little incident perfectly ; I can 
see my dear grandfather, his white hair tied with a 
black ribbon en queue, advancing his stick like a staff" 
of office. I claim that then and there — three years 
old — I found myself, "fetched up my soul" from 
somewhere, almost "from the cradle," inasmuch as 
I had pitied the unfortunate, unselfishly espoused 
his cause, and won for him consideration and justice. 

Writers of fiction are supposed to present, as in 

6 My Day 

a mirror, the truth as it is found in nature. They 
are fond of hinting that at some moment in the early 
life of every individual something occurs which fore- 
shadows his fate, something which if interpreted — 
like the dreams of the ancient Hebrews — would tell 
us without the aid of gypsy, medium, or clairvoyant 
the things we so ardently desire to know. In Dan- 
iel Deronda, Gwendolyn, in her moment of triumph, 
touches a spring in a panel, which, sliding back, re- 
veals a picture, — the upturned face of a drowning 
man. In Lewis Rand, Jacqueline, the bride of half 
an hour, hears the story of a duel — and the pistol- 
shot echoes ever after through her brain, filling it 
with insistent foreboding. 

We might recall illustrations of similar foreshad- 
owing in real life. For instance, Jean Carlyle, six 
years old, beautiful and vivid as a tropical bird, 
stands before an audience to sing her little song ; 
and waits in vain for her accompanist. Finally 
she throws her apron over her head and runs away 
in confusion. She was prepared, she knew her part ; 
but the support was lacking, the accompaniment 
failed her. It was not given to him who told the 
story to perceive the prophecy ! 

Were I fanciful enough to fix upon one moment 
as prophetic of my life — as a key-note to the con- 
trolling principle of that life — I might recall the in- 
cident in my grandfather's room, when I ceased to be 
merely an inert absorber of light and warmth and 
comfort, and became aware of the pain in the world — 
pain which I passionately longed to alleviate. 


HAD a childless aunt, who annually came up 
from her home in Hanover to spend part of the 
summer with my parents and my grandfather. 
She begged me of my mother for a visit, meant to be 
a brief one, and as she was greatly loved and respected 
by her peoole, I was permitted to return with her. 
There were no railroads in Virginia at that time. 
All journeys were made in private conveyances. The 
great coach-and-four had disappeared after the Revo- 
lution. The carriage and pair, with the goatskin 
hair trunk strapped on behind, or — in case the 
journey were long — a light wagon for baggage, were 
now enough for the migratory Virginian. 

He lived at home except for the three summer 
months, when it was his invariable rule to visit Sara- 
toga, or the White Sulphur, Warm, and Sweet 
Springs, of Virginia, making a journey to the latter, 
in something less than a week, now accomplished 
from New York in eight or nine hours. 

Th° carriage on high springs creaked and rocked 
like a ship at sea. Fortunately, it was well cushioned 
and padded within — and furnished at the four cor- 
ners with broad double straps through which the arms 
of the passenger could be thrust to steady himself 
withal. He needed them in the pitching and jolting 
over therocks andruts of dreadful roads. Inside each 
door were ample pockets for sundry comforts — bis- 


8 My Day 

cuits, sandwiches, apples, restorative medicines and 
cordials, books and papers. A flight of three or four 
carpeted steps was folded inside the door. Twenty- 
five miles were considered "a day's journey," quite 
enough for any pair of horses. At noon the latter 
were rested under the shade of trees near some spring 
or clear brook, the carriage cushions were laid out, and 
the luncheon ! Well, I cannot presume to be greater 
than the greatest of all our American artists, — he 
who could mould a hero in bronze and make him 
live again ; and hold us, silent and awed, in the pres- 
ence of the mysterious and unspeakable grief of a 
woman in marble ! Has he not confessed that al- 
though he remembers an early perception of beauty 
in sky and sea, and field and wood — the memory 
that has followed him vividly through life is of odors 
from a baker's oven, and from apples stewing in a 
German neighbor's kitchen? Hot gingerbread and 
spiced, sugared apples ! I should say so, indeed ! 

In just such a carriage as I have described, I set 
forth with my strange aunt and uncle — a little 
three-and-a-half-year-old ! At night we slept in some 
country tavern, surrounded by whispering aspen 
trees. A sign in front, swung like a gibbet, promised 
" Refreshment for man and beast." Invariably the 
landlord, grizzled, portly, and solemn, was lying at 
length on a bench in his porch or lounging in a " split- 
bottom chair" with his feet on the railing. He had 
seen our coming from afar. He was eager for cus- 
tom, but he had dignity to maintain. Lifting him- 
self slowly from his bench or chair, he would lei- 
surely come forward, and hesitatingly " reckon" 

My Day 9 

he could accommodate us. I was mortally afraid of 
him ! Sinking into one of his deep feather beds, I 
trembled for my life and wept for my mother. 

Finally one night, wearied out with the long 
journey, we turned into an avenue of cedars and 
neared our home. My aunt and uncle, on the 
cushions of the back seat, little dreamed of the dire 
resolve of the small rebel in front. Like the ants, 
I had been brought, against my will, to a strange 
country. I silently determined I would not be a 
good little girl. I would be as naughty as I could, 
give all the trouble I could, and force them to send 
me home again. But with the morning sun came 
perfect contentment, which soon blossomed into 
perfect happiness. From my bed I ran out in my 
bare feet to a lovely veranda shaded by roses. On 
one of the latticed bars a little wren bobbed his head 
in greeting, and poured out his silver thread of a 
song. Gabriella, the great tortoise-shell cat, with 
high uplifted tail, wooed and won me ; and when 
Milly, black and smiling, captured me, it was to intro- 
duce me to an adorable doll and a little rocking-chair. 

From that hour until I married I was the 
happy queen of the household, the one whose 
highest good was wisely considered and for whose 
happiness all the re& L lived. 

The bond between my aunt and her small niece 
could never be sundered, and as she was greatly 
loved and trusted, and as many children blessed my 
own dear mother, I was practically adopted as the 
only child of my aunt and uncle, Dr, and Mrs. 
Samuel Pleasants Hargrave. 


THE general impression I retain of the world of 
my childhood is of gardens — gardens every- 
where ; abloom with roses, lilies, violets, jon- 
quils, flowering almond-trees which never fruited, 
double-flowering peach trees which also bore no 
fruit, but were, with the almond trees, cherished for 
the beauty of their blossoms. And conservatories ! 
These began deep in the earth and were built two 
stories high at the back of the house. They were 
entered by steps going down and only thus were 
they entered. Windows opened into them from 
the parlor (always " parlor," — not drawing-room) 
or from my lady's chamber. On the floor were 
great tubs of orange and lemon trees and the 
gorgeous flowering pomegranate. Along the walls 
were shelves reached by short ladders, and on these 
shelves were ranged cacti, gardenias (Cape Jessamine, 
or jasmine, as we knew this queen of flowers), 
abutilon, golden globes of lantana, and the much- 
prized snowy Camellia Japonica, sure to sent packed 
in cotton as gifts to adorn the dusky tresses of 
some Virginia beauty, or clasp the folds of her 
diaphanous kerchief. These camellias, long before 
they were immortalized by the younger Dumas, were 
reckoned the most poetic and elegant of all flowers 
— so pure and sensitive, resenting the profanation 
of the slightest touch. No cavalier of that day 

My Day n 

would present to his ladye faire the simple flowers 
we love to-day. These would come fast enough 
with the melting of the snows early in February. 

I have never forgotten the ecstasy of one of these 
early February mornings. Mittened and hooded I 
ran down the garden walk from which the snow had 
been swept and piled high on either side. Delicious 
little rivers were running down and I launched a 
mighty fleet of leaves and sticks. Suddenly I beheld 
a miracle. The snow was lying thickly all around, 
but the sun had melted it from a south bank, and 
white violets — hundreds of them — had popped 
out. I spread my apron on the clean snow and 
filled it with the cool, crisp blossoms. Running in 
exultant I poured my treasure into my dear aunt's 
lap as she sat on a low chair which brought my head 
just on a level with her bosom. Ah ! Like St. 
Gaudens, I remember the gingerbread and apples! — 
but I remember the violets also! 

I can see myself in the early hot summer, sent 
forth to breathe the cool air of the morning. What 
a paradise of sweets met my senses ! The squares, 
crescents, and circles edged with box, over which an 
enchanted glistening veil had been thrown during 
the night ; the tall lilacs, snowballs, myrtles, and 
syringas, guarding like sentinels the entrance to every 
avenue ; the glowing beds of tulips, pinks, purple 
iris, " bleeding hearts," flowering almond with rosy 
spikes, lily-of-the-valley ! I scanned them all with 
curious eyes. Did I not know that the fairies, rid- 
ing on butterflies, had visited each one and painted 
it during the night ? Did I not know that these 

12 My Day 

same fairies had hung their cups on the grass, and 
danced so long that the cups grew fast to the blades 
of grass and became lilies-of-the-valley ? I knew all 
this — although my dear aunt never approved of 
fairy tales and gave me no fairy-tale books. Cousin 
Charles believed them ; moreover, I had a charming 
picture of a fairy, riding on a butterfly. Of course 
they were true. 

But I always hurried along, with small delay, 
among the flower beds. I knew where the passion- 
vine had dropped golden globes of fruit during the 
night — and I knew well where the cool figs, rimy 
with the early dew, were bursting with scarlet sweet- 
ness. Tell me not of your acrid grape-fruit, or far- 
fetched orange, wherewithal to break the morning 
fast ! I know of something better. Alas ! neither 
you nor I can ever again — except in fancy — cool 
our lips with the dew-washed fruits of an " old Vir- 
ginia " garden. 

It seems to me that the life we led at Cedar Grove 
and Shrubbery Hill was busy beyond all parallel. 
Everything the family and the plantation needed 
was manufactured at home, except the fine fabrics, 
the perfumes, wines, etc., which were brought from 
Richmond, Baltimore, or Philadelphia. Everything, 
from the goose-quill pen to carpets, bedspreads, 
coarse cotton cloth, and linsey-woolsey for servants' 
clothing, was made at home. Even corset-laces 
were braided of cotton threads, the corset itself of 
home manufacture. 

Miss Betsey, the housekeeper, was the busiest of 
women. Besides her everlasting pickling, preserving, 

My Day 13 

and cake-baking, she was engaged, with my aunt, in 
mysterious incantations over cordials, tonics, camo- 
mile, wild cherry, bitter bark, and " vinegar of the 
four thieves," to be used in sickness. 

The recipe for the latter — well known in Virginia 
households a century ago — was probably brought 
by Thomas Jefferson from France in 1794. He 
was a painstaking collector of everything of practical 
value. To this day there exists in the French drug- 
gists' code a recipe known as the " Vinaigre des 
Quatre Voleurs"; and it is that given by con- 
demned malefactors who, according to official records 
still existing in France, entered deserted houses in 
the city of Marseilles during a yellow fever epi- 
demic in the seventeenth century and carried off 
immense quantities of plunder. They seemed to 
possess some method of preserving themselves from 
the scourge. Being finally arrested and condemned 
to be burned to death, an offer was made to change 
the method of inflicting their punishment if they 
would reveal their secret. The condemned men 
then confessed that they always wore over their faces 
handkerchiefs that had been saturated in strong vine- 
gar and impregnated with certain ingredients, the 
principal one being bruised garlic. 

The recipe, still preserved in the Randolph family 
of Virginia, is an odd one — with a homely flavor — 
hardly to be expected of a French formula. It re- 
quires simply " lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, 
rue and mint, of each a large handful ; put them in 
a pot of earthenware, cover the pot closely, and put 
a board on the top ; keep it in the hottest sun two 

14 My Day 

weeks, then strain and bottle it, putting in each a 
clove of garlic. When it has settled in the bottle 
and becomes clear, pour it off gently ; do this until 
you get it all free from sediment. The proper time 
to make it is when herbs are in full vigor, in 

Only a housewife, who lived in an age of abun- 
dant leisure, could afford to interest herself for two 
weeks in the preparation of a bottle of the " Vinegar 
of the Four Thieves." The housekeeper of to-day 
can steep her herbs, then strain them through one 
of the fine sieves in her pantry, the whole operation 
costing little labor and time, with perhaps as good 
results. If she is inclined to make the experiment, 
she will achieve a decoction which has the merit at 
least of romance, the secret of its combination hav- 
ing been purchased by sparing the lives of four dis- 
tinguished Frenchmen, with the present practical 
value of providing a refreshing prophylactic for the 
sick room, — provided the lavender, rosemary, sage, 
wormwood, rue, and mint completely stifle the clove 
of garlic ! 

Pepper and spices were pounded in marble mor- 
tars. Sugar was purchased in the bulk — in large 
cones wrapped in thick blue paper. This was 
broken into great slices, and then subdivided into 
cubes by means of a knife and hammer. 

Sometimes a late winter storm would overtake 
the new-born lambs, and they would be found for- 
saken by the flock. The little shivering creatures 
would be brought to a shelter, and fed with warm 
milk from the long bottles, in which even now 

My Day 15 

we get Farina Cologne. Soft linen was wrapped 
around the slender neck, and my dear aunt fed 
the nurslings with her own white hands. How the 
lambkins could wag their tiny tails ! and how 
they grew and prospered ! 

All the fine muslins of the family, my aunt's 
great collars, and the ruffles worn by my uncle, 
my Cousin Charles, and myself, were carefully laun- 
dered under my aunt's supervision. Dipped in 
pearly starch, they were " clapped dry " in our 
own hands, ironed with small irons, and beautifully 
crimped on a board with a penknife. Fine linen 
was a kind of hall-mark by which a gentleman was 
" known in the gates when he " sat " among the 
elders of the land." 

I was intensely interested in all this busy life — 
and always eager to be a part of it. 

There was nothing I had not attempted before I 
rounded my first decade, — churning, printing the 
butter with wooden moulds, or shaping it into a 
bristling pineapple ; spinning on tiptoe at the great 
wheel — we had no flax-wheels — and even once 
scrambling up to the high seat of the weaver and 
sending the shuttle into hopeless tangles. " Ladies 
don't nuvver do dem things " sternly rebuked 
Milly. " Lemme ketch you ergin at dat busi- 
ness, an' 'twont be wuf while for Marse Chawles 
to baig for you." 

The inconsistencies as to proprieties puzzled me 
then and have puzzled me ever since. 

" Why mustn't I spin and churn, Milly ? " I in- 

1 6 My Day 

" Ain't I done tole you ? Ladies don't nuvver 
do dem things." 

" Then why can I help with the laces and mus- 
lins ? " 

"Cause — ladies does do dem things." 

And so I became an expert blanchisseuse de fin, 
as it was the one household industry allowed my 

There was no railroad to bring us luxuries from 
the nearest town — Richmond — twenty-five miles 
distant, and we depended upon the little covered 
cart of Aunt Mary Miller. Aunt Mary and her 
husband, Uncle Jacob, were old family servants 
who had been given their freedom. They lived 
at the foot of a hill near our house, and down the 
path, slippery with fallen pine needles, I was often 
sent with Milly to summon Uncle Jacob, who was 
the coachman. He was very old, and gray, and 
always unwilling to " hitch up de new kerridge in 
dis bad weather." He would stand on the lawn 
and scan the horizon in every direction — and a 
dim, distant haze was enough to daunt him. Aunt 
Mary was allowed to collect eggs, poultry, and pea- 
cock's feathers from the neighbors, take them down 
to Richmond to her waiting customers, and re- 
turn with sundry delightful things, — Peter Parley's 
books, a wax doll, oranges and candy for me, and 
wonderful stories of the splendors she had seen. 
She had other stories than these. One night " a 
hant " had walked around her cart and " skeered " 
her old horse " pretty nigh outen his senses " ; as 
to herself, " Humph, I'se used to hants." 

My Day 17 

" Where, Aunt Mary, tell me," I begged. With 
a furtive glance lest my elders would hear, she an- 
swered : — 

" I ain't sayin' nothin'. Don't you go an' say / 
tole you anythin'. Jes you run down to the back 
of the gyardin as fur as the weepin' wilier an' you'll 

Of course I knew already what I should find be- 
neath the willow. I had often stood at the foot of 
the two long white slabs and read: " Sacred to the 
Memory of Charles Crenshaw" and "Sacred to the 
Memory of Susannah Crenshaw." I knew their 
story. This had been their home. The brother 
had died early, and for love of him the sister had 
broken her heart. My sweet great-aunt Susannah ! 
Had she not left a lovely Chinese basket — which I 
was to inherit — full of curious and precious things; 
a carved ivory fan, necklace, pearls, and amethysts, 
and a treasure of musk-scented yellow lace? Aunt 
Mary shook her head when I announced scornfully 
that I wasn't afraid of my Aunt Susannah. 

" I ain't talkin' ! Miss Susannah used to war 
blue satin high-heeled slippers. You jes listen ! 
Some o' dese dark nights you'll hear sump'n goin' 
c click, click. 

" I know, Aunt Mary. That's the death-head 
moth. Milly says it won't hurt anybody, without 
you meddle with it." 

" Humph ! Milly ! I seed hants befo' her 
mammy was bawn ! / tells you it's Miss Susannah 
comin' on her high heels to see if you meddlin' 
with her things. I knowed Miss Susannah ! she 

1 8 My Day 

was monsous particlar. She ain't nuvver goin' to 
let you war her things." 

I was a wretched child for a long time after this. 
Whenever I retired into the inner chambers of my 
imagination — as was my wont when grown-up 
people talked politics, or religion, or slavery — I 
found my pretty fairies all fled, and in their places 
hollow-eyed goblins and ghosts. If my gentle 
Aunt Susannah was permitted to come back to her 
home, how about all the others who had lived there ? 
My aunt coming for her final good-night kiss 
would uncover a hot face, to be instantly re- 
covered upon her departure. Par parenthese, I 
never did wear Aunt Susannah's jewels. All dis- 
appeared mysteriously except the chain of lovely 
beads. These I wore. One night I slept in them 
and the next morning they were gone. Whither ? 
Ah, you must call up some one of those long-time 
sleepers. According to latter-day lights, they may 
" come when you do call." They may know. I 
never did know. 


TO house in Virginia was more noted for hospi- 
tality than my uncle's.' I remember an ever 
coming and going procession of Taylors, 
Pendletons, Flemings, Fontaines, Pleasants, etc. 
These made small impression upon me. Men might 
come and men might go, but my lessons went on for- 
ever; writing, geography, and much reading. I had 
Mrs. Sherwood's books. I wonder if any present- 
day child reads " Little Henry and his Bearer," or 
Miss Edgeworth's " Rosamond," or " Peter Parley's 
Four Quarters of the Globe " ! Hannah More was 
the great influence with my aunt and her friends. 
" Thee will be a second Hannah More " was the 
highest praise the literary family at Shrubbery Hill 
could possibly give me. Mr. Augustine Birrell 
could never have written his sarcastic review of her 
in my day. It would not have been tolerated. 
From Miss Edgeworth, Cowper, Burns, St. Pierre, 
my aunt read aloud to me. On every centre table, 
along with the astral lamp, lay a sumptuous volume 
in cream and gold. This was the elegant annual 
" Friendship's Offering," containing the much-ad- 
mired poems of one Alfred Tennyson, collaborating 
with his brother Charles. Miss Martineau was much 
discussed and was distinctly unpopular. Stories were 
told of her peculiarities, her ignorance of the etiquette 
of polite society at the North. When she was in Wash- 


20 My Day 

ington in 1835, sne was invited by Mrs. Samuel 
Harrison Smith to an informal dinner at five o'clock. 
Mrs. Smith had requested three friends to meet her, 
and had arranged for "a small, genteel dinner." 
She had descended to the parlor at an early hour 
to arrange some flowers, when her daughter in- 
formed her that Miss Martineau and her compan- 
ion, Miss Jeffrey, had arrived, and were upstairs in 
her bedroom, having requested to be shown to a 
chamber. Mrs. Smith wrote to Mrs. Kirkpatrick : 
" I hastened upstairs and found them combing their 
hair ! They had taken off their bonnets and large 
capes. 'You see,' said Miss Martineau, c we have 
complied with your request and come sociably to 
spend the day with you. We have been walking 
all the morning; our lodgings were too distant to re- 
turn, so we have done as those who have no car- 
riages do in England when they go to pass a social 
day.' I offered her combs, brushes, etc., but show- 
ing me the enormous pockets in her French dress 
she said that they were provided with all that was 
necessary, and pulled out nice little silk shoes, silk 
stockings, a scarf for her neck, little lace mits, a gold 
chain, and some other jewellery, and soon, without 
changing her dress, was prettily equipped for dinner 
or evening company. It was a rich treat to hear 
her talk when the candles were lit and the curtains 
drawn. Her words flow in a continuous stream, 
her voice is pleasing, her manners quiet and lady- 
like." She was thought to be unfriendly to the 
South — which I have the best of reasons for be- 
lieving was true. 

My Day 21 

All this I heard with unheeding ears, but a deli- 
cious, memorable hour awaited me. Some guest 
had brought her maid, and from her I heard a 
wonderful fairy-godmother story, — of one Cinder- 
ella, whose light footstep would not break a glass 

Uncle Remus had not yet dawned upon a waiting 
world of children, but Cowper had written charm- 
ingly about hares and how to domesticate them. I 
had a flourishing colony of " little Rabs." Some of 
my humble friends were domiciled in the small play- 
house built for me in the garden. Into this sacred 
refuge, ascended by a flight of tiny steps, even Ga- 
briella was forbidden to enter. I could just manage 
to stand under the low ceiling. There I entertained 
a strange company. I had no toys of any descrip- 
tion, and only one doll, which was much too fine for 
every day. Flowers and forked sticks served for 
the dramatis persons of my plays. 

I had never heard of y£sop or of Aristophanes, 
but it was early given to me to discern the excellent 
points of frogs. I caught a number of them on the 
sandy margin of a little brook which ran at the 
bottom of the garden, and Milly helped me to dress 
them in bits of muslin and lace. Their ungraceful 
figures forbade their masquerading as ladies, — a frog 
has " no more waist than the continent of Africa, " — 
but with caps and long skirts they made admirable 
infants, creeping in the most orthodox fashion. Of 
course their prominent eyes and wide mouths left 
something to be desired ; but these were very dear 
children, over whose mysterious disappearance their 

22 My Day 

adoptive mother grieved exceedingly. Could it be 
that snakes — but no ! The suggestion is too awful ! 

My aunt had a warm affection for a kinswoman 
who lived seven or eight miles from us. This lady's 
gentleness and sweetness made her a welcome visitor, 
and I never tired of hearing her talk, albeit her 
manner was tinged with sadness. She grieved over 
the disappearance, years before, of a dear young 
brother. He had simply dropped out of sight — her 
" poor Brother Ben ! " This was a great mystery 
which she often discussed with my aunt, and which 
delightfully stirred my imagination. 

One night late in summer a cold storm of rain 
and wind howled without and beat against the window- 
panes. A fire was kindled on the hearth, and around 
it the family gathered for a cosey evening. Suddenly 
some one saw a face pressed against the window, and 
hastened to open the door to the benighted visitor. 
There, dripping upon the threshold, stood awretched- 
looking man. It was Brother Ben ! 

He carried a bundle of blankets on his back which 
he proceeded to unwind, revealing at last two tiny 
Indian girls ! The frightened little creatures clung 
to him closely, and only after being brought to the 
fire and fed on warm milk were sufficiently reassured 
to permit him to explain himself. With one on 
each knee, " Brother Ben " told his story. He had 
run away to escape the restraints of home and had 
found his way to the wild Western country beyond 
the Ohio. Friendly Indians had sheltered and suc- 
cored him, and he had finally married a young 
daughter of their chief. When his children were 

My Day 23 

born, he " came to himself." He could not endure 
the prospect of rearing them among savages, and so 
had stolen them from their mother's wigwam during 
her temporary absence, and was well on his way be- 
fore his theft was discovered. For days and nights 
he was in the wilderness, fording rivers, climbing 
mountains, hiding under the bushes at night. Fi- 
nally he overtook a party of homeward-bound hunts- 
men, and in their company succeeded in reaching his 
sister's door. 

I never knew what became of him, but the chil- 
dren were adopted by their aunt as her own. They 
were queer little round creatures, knowing no word 
of English, but affectionate and docile. I was much 
with them, delighting to teach them. I cared no 
more for Gabriella nor my rabbits and frogs. I 
thought no more of fairies and midnight apparitions. 
Here was food enough for imagination, different 
from anything I had ever dreamed of, — romance 
brought to my very door. 

Without doubt the Indian mother, far away 
towards the setting sun, wept for her babes, but 
nobody, excepting myself, seemed to think of her. 
Could I write to her? Could I, some day, find a 
huntsman going westward and send her a message ? 
She might even come to them ! Some dark night 
I might see her dusky face pressed against the 
window-pane, peering in ! 

As time wore on, the children grew to be great 
girls, and their Indian peculiarities of feature and 
coloring became so pronounced that they were 
constantly wounded by being mistaken for mulat- 

24 My Day 

toes. There was no school in Virginia where 
they could be happy. No lady would willingly 
allow her little girls to associate with them. Evi- 
dently there was no future for them in Virginia. 
Finally their aunt found through our Quaker 
friends an excellent school, I think in Ohio, and 
thither the little wanderers were sent, were kindly 
treated, were educated, and grew up to be good 
women who married well. 

My aunt made many long journeys — across the 
state to the White Sulphur Springs of which I remem- 
ber nothing but crowds and discomfort — to Amherst, 
where my father lived, to Charlotte to visit my 
grandfather, and to Albemarle to visit friends 
among the mountains. She joined house-parties 
for a few weeks every summer ; and one of these 
I, then a very little child, can perfectly recollect. 

The country house, like all Virginia houses, was 
built of elastic material capable of sheltering any 
number of guests, many of whom remained all 
summer. Indeed, this was expected when a visit 
was promised. " My dear sir," said the master of 
Westover to a departing guest who had sought 
shelter from a rain-storm, " My dear sir, do stay and 
pay us a visit." 

The guest pleaded business that forbade his 
compliance. " Well, well," said Major Drewry, " if 
you can't pay us a visit, come for two or three 
weeks at least." 

"Week ends" were unknown in Virginia, and 
equally out of the question an invitation limited by 
the host to prescribed days and hours. Sometimes 

My Day 25 

a happy guest would ignore time altogether and stay 
along from season to season. I cannot remember a 
parallel case to that of Isaac Watts, who, invited by 
Sir Thomas Abney to spend a night at Stoke New- 
ington, accepted with great cheerfulness and staid 
twenty years, but I do remember that an invitation 
for one night brought to a member of our family a 
pleasant couple who remained four years. Virginia 
was excelled, it seems, by the mother country. 

At this my first house-party there were many 
young people — among them the famous beauty, 
Anne Carmichael, and the then famous poet and 
novelist, Jane Lomax. These, with a number of 
bright young men, made a gay party. Every moon- 
light night it was the custom to bring the horses to 
the door-steps, and all would mount and go off" for 
a visit to some neighbor. I was told, however, that 
the object of these nocturnal rides was to enable 
Miss Lomax to write poetry on the moon, and I 
was sorely perplexed as to the possibility, without 
the longest kind of a pen, of accomplishing such a 
feat. I spent hours reasoning out the problem, and 
had finally almost brought myself to the point of 
consulting the young lady herself, — although I dis- 
tinctly thought there was something mysterious and 
uncanny about her, — when something occurred 
which strained relations between her and myself. 

An uninteresting bachelor from town had ap- 
peared on the scene, to the chagrin of the young 
people, whose circle was complete without him. 
He belonged to the class representing in that day 
the present-day " little brothers of the rich," often 

26 My Day 

the most agreeable relations the rich can boast, but 
in this case decidedly the reverse. 

It was thought that the present intruder was 
" looking for a wife," — he had been known to 
descend upon other house-parties without an in- 
vitation, — and it was deliberately determined to 
give him the most frigid of cold shoulders. Our 
amiable hostess, however, emphatically put a stop 
to this. I learned the state of things and resented 
it. "Old True," as he was irreverently nicknamed, 
was a friend of mine. I resolved to devote myself 
to him, and to espouse his cause against his enemies. 

One day when the young ladies were together in 
my aunt's room there was great merriment over 
the situation in regard to " old True," and many 
jests to his disadvantage related and laughed over. 
To my great delight Miss Lomax presently an- 
nounced : " Now, girls, this is all nonsense ! Mr. 
Trueheart is a favorite of mine. I shall certainly 
accept him if he asks me." 

I believed her literally. I saw daylight for my 
injured friend, and immediately set forth to find 
him. He was sitting alone under the trees, on the 
lawn, and welcomed the little girl tripping over the 
grass to keep him company. On his knee I eagerly 
gave him my delightful news, and saw his face 
illumined by it. I was perfectly happy — and so, 
he assured me, was he ! 

That evening my aunt observed an unwonted ex- 
citement in my face and manner — and after feeling 
my pulse and hot cheeks decided I was better off 
in bed, and sent me to my room, which happened 

My Day 27 

to be in a distant part of the house. To reach it I 
had to go through a long, narrow, dark hall. I 
always traversed this hall at night with bated breath. 
Tiny doors were let into the wall near the floor, 
opening into small apertures then known by the 
obsolescent name of "cuddies." I was afraid to 
pass them. So far from the family, nobody would 
hear me if I screamed. Suppose something were to 
jump out at me from those cuddies ! 

In the middle of this fearsome place I heard quick 
steps behind. Before I could run or scream, strong 
fingers gripped my shoulders and shook me, and 
a fierce whisper hissed in my ear — " Ton little 
devil I " 

It was the poetess — the lady who wrote verses 
on the moon ! " Old True " had suffered no grass 
to grow under his feet ! 

He left early next morning and so did we — my 
aunt perceiving that the excitement of the gay house- 
party was not good for me. 

I learned there were other things besides hot roast 
apples to be avoided. Fingers might be burned by 
meddling with people's love affairs. 

We were not the only guests who left the hos- 
pitable, gay, noisy, sleep-forbidding house. Our 
host had an eccentric sister whom we all addressed 
as " Cousin Betsey Michie," and who had left her 
own home expressly to spend a few weeks here with 
my aunt, to whom she was much attached. When 
" Cousin Betsey " discovered our intended depar- 
ture, she ordered her maid " Liddy " to pack her 
trunk, — a little nail-studded box covered with goat- 

28 My Day 

skin, — and insisted upon claiming us as her guests 
for the rest of the season. 

" Cousin Betsey " was to me a terrible old lady, 
— large, masculine, " hard-favored," and with a wart 
on her chin. I wondered what I should do, were she 
ever to kiss me, — which she never did, — and had 
made up my mind to keep away from her as far as 
possible. I owed her nothing, I reasoned, as she 
was not really my cousin. She used strong language, 
and was intolerant of all the singing, dancing, and 
midnight rides of the young people. Her room was 
immediately beneath mine. But the night before, 
lying awake after my startling interview with the 
poetess, I had heard the galloping horses of the 
party returning from a midnight visit to " Edge- 
worth," and the harsh voice of Cousin Betsey calling 
to her sister: " Maria, Maria! Don't you dare get 
out of bed to give those scamps supper — a passel 
of ramfisticated villians, cavorting all over the coun- 
try like wild Indians." 

A peal of musical laughter, and " Oh, Cousin Bet- 
sey ! " was the answer of a merry horsewoman 

As we heard much about Johnsonian English 
from Cousin Betsey, it was reasonable to suppose, 
my aunt thought, that the startling word was classic. 

One evening while we were her guests she sud- 
denly asked if I could write. I was about to give 
her an indignant affirmative, when my aunt inter- 
rupted, " Not very well." She knew I should be 
pressed into service as a secretary. 

" She ought to learn," said Cousin Betsey. " My 

My Day 29 

own writing is more like Greek than English since 
my eyes fail me. Maria Gordon has been copying 
for me, but such fantastic flourishes ! It will be 
Greek copied into Sanskrit if she does it. Well, 
what can the child do ? Come here, miss. Are 
your hands clean ? Ah ! Wash them again, honey ; 
you must help Liddy make the Fuller's pies for my 
dinner-party to-morrow." 

I was aghast ! But I found the " Fuller's pies " 
were quite within my powers. " Pie " was not the 
American institution, but the bird supposed to hide 
itself in its nest. " Je m en vay chercher un grand 
peut-estre. II est au nid de la pie" says Rabelais. As 
to my hands — I feel persuaded that Cousin Betsey's 
guests would have been reassured could they have 
known to a certainty the old lady had not prepared 
them with her own ! A glass bowl was placed before 
me forthwith, — a bowl of boiling water, some almonds 
and raisins. " Liddy " blanched the almonds in 
the hot water and instructed me to press each one 
neatly into a large raisin, which, puffing out around 
the nut, made it resemble an acorn, or, to the in- 
structed, a nest. These were the " pies " (birds in 
a nest), and very attractive they were, piled in the 
quaint old bowl with its fine diamond cutting. As 
to the " Fuller " thus immortalized, I looked him 
up, furtively, in the great Johnson's Dictionary 
which lay in solitary grandeur upon a table in the 
old lady's bedroom. Finding him unsatisfactory, 
I concluded Dr. Johnson was not, after all, the great 
man Cousin Betsey would have me believe. She 
quoted him on all occasions as authority upon all 

30 My Day 

subjects. Boswell's Life of him, " Rasselas," " The 
Journey to the Hebrides," and " The Rambler " held 
places of honor upon the shelves of her small book- 
case. " Read these, child," she reiterated, " and you 
need read nothing else. They will teach you to 
speak and write English, — you need no other lan- 
guage, — and everything else you need know except 
sewing and cooking." I soon became interested in 
her own literary work. She was, at the moment, 
engaged in writing a novel, " Some Fact and Some 
Fiction," which was to appear serially in the South- 
ern Literary Messenger. I listened " with all my 
ears " to her talk concerning it with my aunt. It 
was to be a satire upon the affectations of the day 
— especially upon certain innovations in dress and 
custom brought by her cousin "Judy," the accom- 
plished wife of our late Minister to France, Mr. 
Rives, and transplanted upon the soil of Albemarle 
County ; also the introduction of Italian words to 
music in place of good old English. The heroine 
was exquisitely simple, her muslin gown clasped with 
a modest pearl brooch and a rose-geranium leaf. 
Her language was fine Johnsonian English — a sort 
of vitalized " Lucilla," like the heroine in Miss Han- 
nah More's " Ccelebs." As to the Italian words for 
music, I blithely committed to memory this sarcastic 
travesty, sung for me in Cousin Betsey's sonorous 
contralto : — 

The Frog he did a' courting ride, 

Rigdum bulamitty kimo — 
With sword and buckler by his side — 

Rigdum bulamitty kimo. 

My Day 31 

( Chorus) 

Kimo naro, delta karo! 

Kimo naro, kimo! 
Strim stram promedidle larabob rig 

Rigdum bulamitty kimo! 

This was deemed a clever satire on the unintelli- 
gible Italian words of recent songs, and ran through 
several verses, describing the Frog's courtship of 
Mistress Mouse, who seems to have been a fair 
lady with domestic habits who lived in a mill and 
was occupied with her spinning. 

I was full of anticipation on the great day of the 
dinner-party. Mrs. Rives, Ella Page her niece, 
and little Amelie Rives — named for her godmother 
the queen of France — were the only invited guests. 
The house was spick and span. I filled a bowl 
with damask roses from the garden, sparing the 
microphylla clusters that hung so prettily over the 
front porch. The dinner was to be at two o'clock. 

A few minutes before two a sable horseman gal- 
loped up to the door, dismounted, and, scraping his 
foot backward as he bared a head covered with gray 
wool, presented a note which my aunt read aloud : — 

" Castle Hill, Wednesday noon. 
" Dear Cousin Betsey : — I know you will be amiable 
enough to pardon me when I tell you how d'esol'ee. I am to 
find the hours have flown unheeded by, and we are too 
late for your dinner ! The young ladies and I were read- 
ing Byron together, and you know how 

'« ' Noiseless falls the foot of time 
That only treads on flowers.' 

32 My Day 

I am sure you forgive us, and hope you will prove it by 
asking us again. 

"Your affectionate cousin, 

" Judith Rives." 

There was an ominous pause — and then the 
old dame said, in her sternest magisterial manner : — 

"Tell Judy Rives to read Byron less — and Lord 
Chesterfield more." Turning to my aunt after 
the dignified old servitor had bowed himself out, 
she said, with fine scorn : " There's no use in telling 
her to read Dr. Samuel Johnson ! 'DesoleeJ for- 
sooth ! — and 'the foot of time'! That sounds 
like that idiot, Tom Moore." 

I had a very good time at Cousin Betsey's. I 
helped to pick the berries and gather the eggs from 
the nests in the privet hedge. Also for several days 
I had a steady diet of " Fuller's pies." 

As to the novel, if it appeared at all it fell upon 
the public ear with a dull thud. Still, Cousin Betsey 
must have been, in her way, a great woman, for it 
was of her that Thomas Jefferson exclaimed, " God 
send she were a man, that I might make her Pro- 
fessor in my University." 


SOMETHING akin to the tulip mania of Hol- 
land possessed the Southern country in the early 
thirties. The Morus multicaulis^ upon the 
leaves of which the silkworm feeds, can be propa- 
gated from slips or cuttings. These cuttings com- 
manded a fabulous price. To plant them was to 
lay a sure foundation for a great fortune. 

My uncle visited Richmond at a time when the 
mania had reached fever-heat. Men hurried through 
the streets, with bundles of twigs under their arms, 
as if they were flying from an enemy. All over the 
city auction sales were held, and fortunes lost or 
gained — as they are to-day in Wall Street — with 
the fluctuations of the market. " I saw old Jerry 
White running with a bundle of sticks under his arm 
as if the devil were after him," said my uncle, — lazy, 
rheumatic old Jerry, who had not for years left his 
chimney corner in winter, or the bench upon which 
he basked like a lizard in summer, except to eat and 
sleep ! 

Long galleries, roofed with glass, were hastily 
erected all over the country, the last year's eggs of 
the Bombyx mori obtained at great price, and the 
freshly gathered leaves of the Morus multicaulis laid 
in readiness for their hatching. 

My uncle ridiculed this madness, although as a 
physician it interested him. 
D 33 

34 My Day 

" It does people good to stir them up," he de- 
clared. " It wakes up their livers and keeps them 
out of mischief. It is a fine tonic. They will need 
no bark and camomile while the fever lasts." 

We made a pilgrimage to the distant farm of one 
of the maniacs. With my narrow skirts drawn 
closely around me, I tiptoed gingerly along the 
aisles dividing the long tables, and saw the hideous, 
grayish yellow, three-inch worms — each one armed 
with a rhinoceros-like horn on his head — devouring 
leaves for dear life. They had need for haste. 
Their time was short. Think of the millions of 
brave men and fair ladies who were waiting for the 
strong, shining threads it was their humble destiny 
to spin ! Meanwhile, the lazy moths, their raison 
d'etre having been accomplished, enjoyed in ele- 
gant leisure the evening of their days of beneficence. 
I saw the ease with which their spider-web thread 
was caught in hot water, and wound in balls as easily 
as I wound the wools for my aunt's knitting. 

Nothing came of it all ! In time all the Morus 
multicaulis was dug up, and good, sensible corn 
planted in its stead. Old Jerry found again his warm 
seat by the ingleside, where doubtless he 

" backward mused on wasted time," 

and many a better man than poor Jerry was stricken 
with amazement at his own folly. Does not Morus 
come from the Greek word for " fool " ? 

Next to his Bible and the Westminster Catechism, 
my uncle pinned his faith to the Richmond Whig. 
Henry Clay was his idol. To make Henry Clay 

My Day 35 

President of the United States was something to live 
for. When the great man passed through Virginia, 
all Hanover went to Richmond to do him honor, 
ourselves among the number. He was a son of 
Hanover, the " Mill boy of the Slashes." The old 
Mother of Presidents could, never fear, give yet an- 
other son to the country ! No living man except 
Webster equalled him in all that the world holds 
essential to greatness — none was as dear to the mass 
of people. And yet neither could be elected to the 
post of Chief Magistrate of those adoring people ! 

Clay, at the time he visited Richmond, was confi- 
dent he would win this honor. My uncle resolved 
I should see " the next President." A procession 
of citizens was to conduct him to a hall where a ban- 
quet awaited him. My uncle found a vacant door- 
step on the line of march, and there we awaited the 
great man's coming. " Ah, there he comes !" ex- 
claimed my uncle. " Look well, little girl! You 
may never again see the greatest man in the world." 
But to look was impossible. The crowd thronged 
us, and my uncle caught me to a vantage-ground on 
his shoulder. A tumbling sea of hats was all I could 
see ! Presently a space appeared in the procession, 
and a tall man on the arm of another looked up with 
a rare smile to the small maiden, lifted his hat, and 
bowed to her ! My uncle never allowed me to for- 
get that one supreme moment in my child-life. To 
this day I cannot look at the fine bronze statuette 
of Henry Clay in my husband's library without a 
sensation born of the pride of that hour. 

I am afraid the small maiden dearly loved glory ! 

36 My Day 

Nobody would ever have guessed the ambitious 
little heart beating, the next winter, under the cherry 
merino ; nor the conscious lips deep in her poke-bon- 
net that followed the prayers at church and implored 
mercy for a miserable sinner ! For she had, during 
that glorious summer, another shining hour to 
remember. Those penitent lips had been kissed 
by a great man all the way from England — a man 
who had kissed the hand of a queen ! She had 
a dim apprehension of virtue through the laying on 
of hands in church. What, then, might not come in 
the way of royal attribute from the laying on of lips ! 

Great thoughts like these so swelled my bosom 
that I was fain to reveal them to my little Quaker 
cousin at Shrubbery Hill. She received them gravely. 
" Oh, Sara Agnes," she ventured, " I am afraid thee 
is going to be one of the world's people ! " All the 
same she had just dressed her doll Isabella in black 
silk, with a lace mantilla ! The Princess Isabella, 
born, like myself, in 1830, was even then known as 
the future queen of Spain. It was an age of young 

Among the strangers from abroad who found their 
way to Virginia, none was more honored in Han- 
over than the Quaker author and philanthropist, 
Joseph John Gurney. He was the brother of 
Elizabeth Fry, who gave her life to the amelioration 
of the prison horrors of England. 

My uncle entertained Dr. Gurney. The house 
was filled with guests to its utmost capacity. A 
picture of the long dining-tables rises before me — 
the gold-and-white best service, the flowers — and 

My Day 37 

the sweetest flower of all, my young aunt. She was 
tall and graceful and very beautiful, — with large 
gray eyes, dark curls framing her face, delicate fea- 
tures, a lovely smile ! She wore a narrow gown of 
pearl silk, the " surplice " waist belted high, and 
sleeves distended at the top by means of feather 
cushions tied in the armholes. I remember my 
uncle ordered the dinner to be served quietly and 
in a leisurely manner. " These Englishmen eat 
deliberately," he said. " Only Americans bolt their 

In the evening, after the dinner company had 
left, a small party gathered around the astral lamp 
in the parlor, and Dr. Gurney drew forth his scrap- 
book and pencils, and began, as he talked, to re- 
touch sketches he had made during his journey. 
The parlor was simply furnished. The Virginian 
of that day seemed to attach small importance to the 
style of his furniture. His chief pride was in his 
table, his fine wines, his horses and equipage, and 
the perfect comfort he could give his guests. There 
was no bric-a-brac, there were no pictures or brackets 
on the wall. " I have now," said an artist to me, 
" seen everything hung on American walls except 
buckwheat cakes ! I have seen the plate in which 
they were served." 

This parlor at Cedar Grove admitted but one 
picture — a fine copy over the mantel of the School 
of Athens, which my cousin Charles had brought as 
a present for my aunt, when he last returned from 
abroad. She was not responsible for the taste of 
this inherited home, which she had not tenanted 

38 My Day 

very long. The walls of the parlor were papered 
with a wonderful representation of a Venetian scene 
— printed at intervals of perhaps four or more feet. 
There was a castle with turrets and battlements ; 
and a marble stair, flanked with roses in pots, de- 
scending into the water. Down this stair came the 
most adorable creature in the world, — roses on her 
brocade gown, roses on her broad hat, — and at the 
foot of the stair a cavalier, also adorable, extended 
his hand to conduct her to the gondola in waiting. 
In the distance were more castles, more sea, more 

In this room the distinguished stranger met 
the company convened in his honor. If he gasped 
or shuddered at the ornate walls, he gave no sign. 
The little girl on the ottoman in the chimney cor- 
ner, permitted to sit up late because of the rare 
occasion, listened with wide eyes to conversation 
she could not understand. Weighty matters were 
discussed, — for all the world was alive to the ques- 
tion which had to be met later, — the possibility of 
freeing the slaves under the present constitutional 
laws. This was a small gathering of the wise men 
of our neighborhood — come to consult a wise man 
from the country that had met and solved a similar 
problem. Perhaps all of these men had, like my 
uncle, given freedom to inherited slaves. 

Presently I found myself, as I half dreamed in 
the corner, caught up by strong arms to the bosom 
of the great man himself. Bending over the sleepy 
head, he whispered a strange story — how that, far 
away across the seas, there was once a little girl 

My Day 39 

"just like you" who loved her play, and loved to 
sit up and hear grown people talk — how a lady 
came to her one day and said, " My child, you 
must study and learn to deny yourself much pleas- 
ure, for soon you will be the queen of England " 
— how the little girl neither laughed nor cried, but 
said, " I will be good " — how time had gone on, and 
she had kept her promise and was now grown up to 
be a lovely lady; and sure enough, just a little while 
ago had been crowned queen — and how every- 
body was glad, because they knew, as she had been a 
good child, she would be a good queen. 

That was a long time ago. Many things have 
happened and been forgotten since then ; the Vene- 
tian lady and her cavalier have sailed away in un- 
known seas ; the good Englishman has long since 
gone to his rest; the queen has won, God grant, 
an immortal crown, having lived to be old, never 
forgetting all along her life her promise ; and the 
little girl has lived to be old, too ! She has dreamed 
many dreams, but none more beautiful than the one 
she probably dreamed that night, — all roses and 
castles and gondolas, and a gracious young queen 
lovelier than all the rest. 

Thus passed the first eight years of my life. 
Compared with those that followed, they were years 
of absolute serenity and happiness. They were not 
gay. This was the time when people who " feared 
God and desired to save their souls " felt bound to 
forsake the Established Church, many of whose 
clergy had become objects of disgust rather than of 
reverence. Dissenters and Quakers lived all around 

40 My Day 

us ; my uncle and aunt were Presbyterians, and I 
heard little but sober talk in my early years. Some- 
times we attended the silent meetings of the Quak- 
ers, and sometimes old St. Martin's, to which many 
of our Episcopal friends belonged. Extreme asceti- 
cism, however, was as far from the temper of my 
aunt and uncle as was the extreme of dissipation. 
They were strict in the observance of the Sabbath 
and of all religious duties. Temperance in speech 
and living, moderation, serenity, — these ruled the 
life at Cedar Grove. 

And so, although I cannot claim that 

'« There was a star that danced, 
And under it I was born," 

I look back with gratitude unspeakable to a beauti- 
ful childhood, and bless the memory of those who 
suffered no " shapes of ill to hover near it," and 
mar its perfect innocence. 


WHEN it was found that a refined and in- 
telligent society was inclined to crystal- 
lize around the court green of Albemarle 
County, it became imperative to choose a fitting 
name for a promising young village. 

In 1 76 1 there was a charming princess of Meck- 
lenburg-Strelitz ; intelligent, amiable, and only 
seventeen years of age. She had stepped forth 
from the conventional ranks of the young noble- 
women of her day, and written a spirited letter to 
Frederick the Great, in which she entreated him to 
stop the ravages of war then desolating the German 
States. She had painted in vivid colors the 
miseries resulting from the brutality of the Prussian 

It appears that this letter reached the eyes of the 
Prince of Wales. He fell in love with the letter 
before he ever knew the writer. In the same 
year that he, as George III, ascended the throne of 
England, the lovely Charlotte, Princess of Meck- 
lenburg-Strelitz, became his wife. Charlottesville, 
then, was a name of happy omen for the pretty 
little town, and in three more years a county was 
created, it would seem, expressly that it might be 
called " Mecklenburg," and yet again a slice taken 
from another county to form the county of Char- 


42 My Day 

The colony of Virginia was strewn thickly with 
the names of royal England : King and Queen, 
Charles City, — Charlestown, — King George, King 
William, William and Mary, Prince Edward, Prin- 
cess Anne, Caroline, Prince George, Henrico, 
Prince William. No less than four rivers were 
named in honor of the good Queen Anne: Rapidan, 
North Anna, South Anna, Rivanna. We might 
almost call the roll of the House of Lords from a 
list of Virginia counties. 

Twenty-four years after the Princess Charlotte 
had become a queen, Mrs. Abigail Adams, as our 
minister's wife, was presented at the Court of St. 
James. Alas for time, — and perhaps for prejudice, 
— she found, in place of the charming princess, an 
" embarrassed woman, not well-shaped nor handsome, 
although bravely attired in purple and silver." 
The interview was cold and stilted, but all the 
" embarrassment " was on the part of royalty. 

There had been a recent unpleasantness between 
John Bull and Brother Jonathan ; King George, 
however, brave Briton as he was, broke the ice, and 
startled Mrs. Adams by giving her a hearty kiss ! 
She could not venture, however, to remind the 
queen that we had named counties in her honor. 
She might, in her present state of mind, have 
deemed it an impertinence on our part. 

I am so impatient under descriptions of scenery, 
that I do not like to inflict them upon others. But 
I wish I could stand with my reader upon the 
elliptic plain formed by cutting down the apex of 
Monticello. He would, I am sure, appreciate the 

My Day 43 

fascination of mountain, valley, and river which drew 
the first settlers, and later the Randolphs, Gilmers, 
William Wirt, and Thomas Jefferson, to the region 
around Charlottesville. On the east the almost 
level scene is bounded by the horizon, and on the 
west the land seems to billow onward, wave after 
wave, until it rises in the noble crests of the Blue 
Ridge Mountains. A mist of green at our feet is 
pierced here and there by the simple belfries of the 
village churches, and a little farther on, glimpses 
appear of the classic Pantheon and long colonnades 
of the University of Virginia. Imagination may 
fill in this picture, but reality will far exceed im- 
agination, especially if the happy moment is caught 
at sunset when the mountains change color, from 
rose through delicate shadings to amethyst, and 
finally paint themselves deep blue against the even- 
ing sky. Then, should that sky chance to be 
veiled with light, fleecy clouds all flame and gold 
— but I forbear ! 

This was the spot chosen by my aunt as the very 
best for my education and my social life. The 
town was small in the forties, indeed, is not yet a city. 
It is described at that time as having four churches, 
two book-stores, several dry-goods stores, and a 
female seminary. The family of Governor Gilmer 
lived on one of the little hills, Mr. Valentine South- 
all on another, and we were fortunate enough to 
secure a third, with a glorious view of the moun- 
tains and with grounds terraced to the foot of the 
hill. Large gardens, grounds, and ornamental trees 
surrounded all the houses. The best of these were 

44 My Day 

of plain brick of uniform unpretentious architec- 
ture, comfortable, and ample. A small brick build- 
ing at the foot of our lawn was my uncle's office, 
and behind it, on my tenth birthday, he made me 
plant a tree. 

The " Female Seminary " had been really the 
magnet that drew my dear aunt. It was a famous 
school, presided over by an excellent and much-loved 
Presbyterian clergyman. There it was supposed I 
should learn everything my aunt could not teach 

Behold me, then, on a crisp October morning 
wending my way to the great brick hive for girls. 
I was going with my aunt to be examined for ad- 
mission. Her thoughts were, doubtless, anxious 
enough about the creditable showing I should make. 
Mine were anxious, too. I was conscious of a linen 
bretelle apron under my pelisse, and my mind was 
far from clear about the propriety of so juvenile a 
garment. Suppose no other girl wore bretelle aprons ! 

However, when we marched up the broad brick- 
paved walk and ascended the steps of the great 
building, whose many windows seemed to stare at 
us like lidless eyes, bretelle aprons sank into insig- 

The room into which we were ushered seemed to 
be filled with hundreds of girls, and the Reverend 
Doctor's desk on a platform towered over them. 
He was most affable and kind. The examination 
lasted only a few minutes, a list of books was given 
me, and a desk immediately in front of the principal 
assigned me. Books were borrowed from some 

My Day 45 

other girl, the lessons for the next day pointed out, 
and my school life began. 

Remember, I had not yet planted my tenth birth- 
day tree. These were the books deemed suitable 
for my age, — Abercrombie's "Intellectual Philoso- 
phy," Watts on the " Improvement of the Mind," 
Goldsmith's " History of Greece," and somebody's 
Natural Philosophy. 

I worked hard on these subjects with the result 
that, as I could not understand them, I learned by 
rote a few words in answer to the questions. A 
bright, amiable little scrap of a girl, who always 
knew her lessons, volunteered to assist me. If any 
collector of old books should happen to find a 
volume of Watts on the Mind, much thumbed, 
and blotted here and there with tears, and should 
see within the early pages pencilled brackets en- 
closing the briefest possible answer to the questions, 
that book, those tears, were mine ; and the brackets 
are the loving marks made by Margaret Wolfe, 
whose memory I ever cherish. 

" What is Logic ? " questions the teacher's guide 
at the bottom of the pages. 

" Logic," answers Dr. Watts (in conspicuous pen- 
cilled brackets), "is the art of investigating and 
communicating Truth." 

I had been struggling with Dr. Watts, Abercrom- 
bie, et aL, for several months, when my aunt reluc- 
tantly realized that, however admirable the school 
might be for others, I was not improving in mind or 
health. As soon as she arrived at this conclusion, 
she decided to experiment with no more large fe- 

46 My Day 

male seminaries, but to educate me, as best she could, 
at home. 

At the same time I know that my dear aunt suf- 
fered from the overthrow of all her plans for my 
education. She had, for my sake, made great sac- 
rifices in leaving her inherited home. These sac- 
rifices were all for naught. She must have felt keen 
disappointment, and regret at the loss, toil, expense, 
— and, above all, my worse than wasted time. 

Yet, after all, my time at school may not have been 
utterly thrown away ! The experience may have 
borne fruit that I know not of. Moreover, I had 
learned something ! I learned that Logic is the art 
of investigating and communicating Truth ! 


MASTERS were found in a preparatory school 
for my home education. Happy to escape 
from the schoolroom, I worked as never 
maiden worked before, loving my summer desk in 
the apple tree in the garden, loving my winter desk 
beside the blazing wood in my uncle's office, pas- 
sionately loving my music, and interested in the other 
studies assigned me. With no competitive exami- 
nations to stimulate me, I yet made good progress. 
Before I reached my thirteenth year, I had learned 
to read French easily. I had wept over the tender 
story of Picciola and the sorrows of Paul and Vir- 
ginia. I had sailed with Ulysses and trod the 
flowery fields with Calypso. My aunt had beguiled 
me into a course of history by allowing me as reward 
those romances of Walter Scott which are founded 
on historical events. My love of music and desire 
to excel in it made me patient under the eccentric 
itinerant music teacher, the one pioneer apostle of 
classic music in all Virginia, who was known, more 
than once, to arrive at midnight and call me up for 
my lesson ; and who, while other maidens were play- 
ing the " Battle of Prague " and " Bonaparte cross- 
ing the Rhine," or singing the campaign songs of 
the hero of the log cabin, taught me to love Bee- 
thoven and Liszt, and to discern the answering 
voices in that genius, then young, whose magic 


48 My Day 

music fell not then, nor ever after, upon unheeding 
ears. I had read with my aunt selections all the 
way from " The Faerie Queene" through the times 
of later queens, — Elizabeth and Anne, — and had 
made a beginning with the queen for whom I had 
a sentiment, and who has given her name to so fair 
an age of fancy and of elegant writing. Alas, for the 
mental training I might have had through the study 
of mathematics ! Were it not that the lack of this 
training must be apparent to all who are kind enough 
to listen to my story, I might quote Joseph Jeffer- 
son, as Mr. William Winter reports him : " Why, 
look at me ! I seem to have managed pretty well, 
but I couldn't for the life of me add up a column 
of figures." The only figures I know anything 
about are figures of speech. Fortunately, I have 
had little use for addition. My knowledge has been 
quite sufficient for my needs. 

My French teacher, Mr. Mertons, — a square- 
shouldered, spectacled German, with an upright 
shock of coarse black hair, literally pounded the 
French language into me. With a grammar held 
aloft in his left hand, he emphasized every rule with 
his right fist, coming down hard on my aunt's ma- 
hogany. If success is to be measured by results, I 
can only say that, although I perceived some charm 
in Mme. de Sevigne and in Dumas, I was rather 
dense with Racine and Moliere ; and as to the 
spoken language ! I can usually manage to convey, 
by gesture and deliberate English, a twilight glim- 
mer of my meaning in talking to a polite Frenchman, 
but blank darkness descends upon him when I speak 

My Day 49 

to him in "a French not spoken in France." The 
gift for " divers kinds of tongues " was not bestowed 
upon me. 

The music teacher deserves more than a passing 
notice. He was unique. Mr. William C. Rives 
found him somewhere in France, and promised him 
a large salary if he would come to America, live near 
or in Charlottesville, and teach his daughter Amelie. 
He was the incarnation of thriftlessness ; with no 
polish of manner, no idea of business, or order, or 
of the necessity of paying a debt, but he was also 
the incarnation of music ! My uncle again and again 
satisfied the sheriff and released him from bonds. 
Finally, he could not appear in town at all by day- 
light, and often arrived at midnight for my lesson. 
Gladly my aunt would rise and dress to preside over 
it. My teacher would disappear before the dawn. 
He owed money all over town which he had not the 
faintest intention of ever paying. More than once 
his defenceless back could have borne witness to a 
creditor's outraged feelings. But he was resource- 
ful. Thereafter he carried all his music, a thick 
package, in a case sewed to the lining of his coat. 
His back, rather than his breast, needed a shield. 
It was amusing to see him pack himself up, as it 
were, before venturing into the open. 

But with all this, we prized him above rubies. 
He was a brilliant pianist, a great genius; had 
studied with Liszt, early appreciated Chopin, adored 
Beethoven. 1 One of his animated lessons would leave 
me in a state " which fiddle-strings is weakness to 
express my nerves," and yet no summons to duty 


50 My Day 

ever thrilled me with pleasure like his " Koom on 
ze biahno." Once there, absolute fidelity to the 
composer's writing and the position of my hands 
exacted all my attention. The margins of my music 
were liberally adorned with illustrations of my fist — - 
a clumsy bunch with an outsticking thumb. 

I always felt keenly the charm of music, even 
when it was beyond my comprehension. One day, 
happening to look up from his own playing, he de- 
tected tears in my eyes. He was enraged in three 
languages. " Himmel ! Zis is not bathetique ! 
Zis is scherzo ! Eh, bien ! I blay him adagio." 
And under shut teeth a sibilant whisper sounded 
very much like "imbecile" as he hung his head to 
one side, arched his brows, and drawled out the 
theme in a ridiculous manner. Once I was so car- 
ried away by a delicious passage I was playing that 
I diminished the tempo^ that the linked sweetness 
might be long drawn out. He literally danced ! 
He beat time furiously with both hands. " Ach ! is 
it you yourselluf, know bedder zan ze great maestro," 
and sweeping me from the piano stool he rendered 
the passage properly. 

One summer my aunt, in order that I might have 
lessons, took board in a country place where he lived. 
I was pleasing myself one day with a little German 
song I had smuggled from town : — 

" The church bells are ringing, the village is gay, 
And Leila is dressed in her bridal array. 
She's wooed, and she's won 
By a proud Baron's son, 
And Leila, Leila, Leila's a Lady ! " 

My Day 51 

Proceeding gayly with the chorus, and exulting in 
Leila's ladyship and good fortune, I was startled 
by thunderous claps through the house. Mr. 
Meerbach was fleeing to his own room, slam- 
ming the doors between himself and my unedu- 
cated voice! 

Of course he lost his scholars. At last only 
Amelie Rives, Jane Page, Eliza Meriwether, and 
myself remained. We had to make up his salary 
among us. " I hope you'll study, dear," said my 
kind uncle ; " I am now giving eight dollars apiece 
for your lessons." Jane Page played magnificently. 
This rare young genius, a niece of Mrs. William C. 
Rives, died young. The rest of us played well, too. 
My teacher wished to take me to Richmond to 
play for Thalberg his own difficult, florid music, 
and was terribly chagrined at my aunt's refusal to 
permit me to go. 

The little Episcopal church and rectory were 
just across the street, and the rector, Mr. Meade, 
allowed me free access to the gallery, where I de- 
lighted to practise on the small pipe organ. I was 
just tall enough to reach the foot notes. The 
church was peculiarly interesting from the fact 
that Thomas Jefferson, who is supposed to have 
been a free thinker, had insisted upon building it 
and had furnished the plans for it. Before it was 
built, services were held in the Court House, which 
Mr. Jefferson regularly attended, bringing his seat 
with him on horseback from Monticello, "it be- 
ing," says Bishop Meade, " of some light machinery 
which, folded up, was carried under his arm and, 

52 My Day 

unfolded, served for a seat on the floor of the 
Court House." 

I was thirteen years old when Mr. Meade sent for 
me one evening to come to him in his vestry room. 
He told me that the Episcopal Convention was to 
meet in his church in two days, and he had just 
discovered that Miss Willy (the organist) had ar- 
ranged an entire new service of chants and hymns. 
He had requested her not to use it, urging that his 
father the bishop, the clergy, and all his own 
people knew and loved the old tunes, and could 
not join in the new. Miss Willy had indignantly 
resented his interference and threatened to resign, 
with all her choir, unless he yielded. " I shall cer- 
tainly not yield," said the rector. " I have told 
her that I know a little girl who will be glad to 
help me. Now I wish you to play for the conven- 
tion, beginning day after to-morrow (Sunday), and 
every evening during its session. This will give 
you evening services all the week, beginning with 
three on Sunday. I will see that familiar hymns 
are selected, and you need chant none of the Psalms 
except the Benedictus and Gloria in Excelsis." 

I began, "Oh, I'm afraid—" "No," said Mr. 
Meade, " you're not afraid ; you are not going to be 
afraid. Just be in your place fifteen minutes before 
the time, and draw the curtain between you and the 
audience. I shall send you a good choir." 

I practised with a will next day. On the great 
day, when I passed the sable giant, Ossian, pulling 
away at the rope under the belfry, and heard the 
solemn bell announcing that my hour had come, my 

My Day 53 

heart sank within me. But Ossian gave me a glit- 
tering smile which showed all his magnificent ivories. 
He was grinning because he was going to pump the 
organ for such a slip of a lass as I ! 

On arriving at the organ gallery, I found my 
choir, — several ladies whom I knew, and a group of 
fine-looking students from the University. They 
looked down kindly on the small organist, with her 
hair hanging in two braids down her back. I reso- 
lutely kept that small back to the drawn curtain ! 
Only the tip of one of Miss Willy's nodding 
plumes, and I should have been undone ! 

All went well. The singing was fine from half 
a dozen manly throats, supplementing two or 
three female voices and my own little pipe. I was 
soon lost to my surroundings in the enjoyment of 
my work. When, on the last day, the good bishop 
asked for the grand old hymn, " How firm a foun- 
dation, ye saints of the Lord," it thrilled my soul to 
hear the church fill with the triumphant singing of 
the congregation, led by little me and my impro- 
vised choir. 


THE society of Charlottesville in the forties 
was composed of a few families of early resi- 
dents and of the professors at the University. 
Governor Gilmer, Secretary of the Navy in Tyler's 
time, Mr. Valentine Southall of an old Virginia 
family, and himself eminent in his profession of the 
law, Dr. Charles Carter, Professor Tucker, William B. 
Rogers, Dr. McGuffey, Dr. Cabell, Professor Harri- 
son, — all these names are well known and esteemed to 
this day. There were young people in these families, 
and all them were my friends. Along the road I 
have travelled for so many years I have met none 
superior to them and very few their equals. 

My special coterie was a choice one. It included, 
among others, Lizzie Gilmer (the lovely) and her 
sisters ; beautiful Lucy Southall ; Maria Harrison 
and her sweet sister Mary, both accomplished in 
music and literature ; Eliza Rives and Mary 
McGuffey. James Southall, William C. Rives, Jr., 
George Wythe Randolph, Jack Seddon, Kinsey 
Johns, Professor Scheie de Vere, John Randolph 
Tucker, St. George Tucker — these were habitues of 
my home, and all apparently interested in me and in 
my music. To each name I might append a list of 
honors won, at the bar, in literature, and in the army. 
I have survived them all — and I kept the friendship 
of each one as long as he lived. 


My Day 55 

The customs in entertaining differed from those 
in vogue at the present day. Afternoon teas, which 
had been fashionable during the Revolution — tea 
then being a rare luxury — had not survived until 
the forties. Choice Madeira in small glasses, and 
fruit-cake were offered to afternoon callers. The 
cake must always be au naturel if served in the day- 
time. Cake iced — in evening dress — was only 
permissible at the evening hour. 

Dinner-parties demanded a large variety of dishes. 
They were not served a la Russe. Two table-cloths 
wer ederigueur for a dinner company. One was removed 
with the dishes of meat, vegetables, celery, and many 
pickles, all of which had been placed at once upon 
the table. The cut-glass and silver dessert dishes 
rested on the finest damask the housewife could pro- 
vide. This cloth removed, left the mahogany for 
the final walnuts and wine. 

Three o'clock was a late hour for a dinner-party — 
the ordinary family dinner was at two. The large 
silver tureen, which is now enjoying a dignified old 
age on our sideboards, had then place at the foot of the 
table. After soup, boiled fish appeared at the head. 

An interview has been preserved between a Wash- 
ington hostess of the time and Henry, an "expe- 
rienced and fashionable " caterer. Upon being 
required to furnish the smallest list of dishes pos- 
sible for a "genteel" dinner-party of twelve persons, 
he reluctantly reduced his menu to soup, fish, eight 
dishes of meat, stewed celery, spinach, salsify, and 
cauliflower. " Potatoes and beets would not be 
genteel." The meats were turkey, ham, par- 

56 My Day 

tridges, mutton chops, sweetbreads, oyster pie, 
pheasants, and canvas-back ducks. " Plum-pud- 
ding," suggested the hostess. " La, no, ma'am ! 
All kinds of puddings and pies are out of fashion." 
" What, then, can I have at the head and foot of the 
table ? " asked the hostess. " Forms of ice-cream 
at the head, and at the foot a handsome pyramid of 
fruit. Side dishes, jellies, custards, blanc-mange, 
cakes, sweetmeats, and sugar-plums." " No nuts, 
raisins, figs? " " Oh, no, no, ma'am, they are quite 
vulgar ! " 

For the informal supper-parties, to which my 
aunt was wont to invite the governor and Mrs. 
Gilmer, Mr. and Mrs. Southall, Professor and Mrs. 
Tucker, the table was amply furnished with cold 
tongue, ham, broiled chickens or partridges, and 
pickled oysters, hot waffles, rolls and muffins, very 
thin wheaten wafers, green sweetmeats, preserved 
peaches, brandied peaches, cake, tea, and coffee ; 
and in summer the fruits of the season. These 
suppers made a brave showing with the Sheffield 
candelabra and bowls of roses. Ten years later 
these " high teas " were quite out of fashion, and 
would, by a modern " fashionable caterer," be con- 
demned as "vulgar." There was a crusade against 
all card-playing and dancing. The pendulum was 
swinging far back from an earlier time when the punch- 
bowl and cards ruled the evening, and the dancing 
master held long sessions, travelling from house to 
house. To have a regular dancing party, with 
violins and cotillon, was like " driving a coach-and- 
six straight through the Ten Commandments !" My 

My Day 57 

aunt, however, had the courage of her convictions, 
and allowed me small and early dances in our par- 
lor, with only piano music. Old Jesse Scott lived 
at the foot of the hill — but to the length of intro- 
ducing him and his violin we dared not go. As it 
was, after our first offence, a sermon was preached in 
the Presbyterian church against the vulgarity and 
sin of dancing. My aunt listened respectfully but 
continued the dance she deemed good for my health 
and spirits. 

The noblest of men, and one of my uncle's dear- 
est friends, was Thomas Walker Gilmer, Secretary 
of the Navy during Tyler's administration. He 
was killed on the Potomac by the bursting of a gun 
on trial for the first time. My uncle and aunt went 
immediately to Washington to bring him home. 
No man had ever been so loved and esteemed by 
all who knew him. I have never seen such grief, 
as the sorrow of his wife. She had been a brilliant 
member of the Washington society, noted for ready 
wit and repartee. Never, as long as she lived, did 
she reenter social life. With her orphaned children 
she lived on " The Hill " very near us. These 
children were a part of our family always. 

As time went on, and we grew tall, — Lizzie and I, 
— students from the University found us out, and 
had permission to visit us. Lizzie, three years my 
senior, became engaged to St. George Tucker, one 
of our choice circle. When more visitors called on 
Lizzie than she could well entertain in an evening, 
it was her custom to send Susan, a little pet negress 
whom she had taught to read, running down the hill 

58 My Day 

with, " Please, Miss Hargrave, please, ma'am, Miss 
Lizzie say she certn'ly will be glad if you let Miss 
Sara come up an' help 'er with her comp'ny." My 
aunt could never deny her anything. I was too 
young, much too young, but we took our lives very 
naturally and unconsciously, accepting a guest and 
doing our best for him, whether he was old or young. 
We were never announced as debutantes. No Rubi- 
con flowed across our path, — on one side pinafores 
and long braids, on the other purple-and-flne-linen 
and elaborate coiffure, — the which if stepped across 
at an entertainment ushered us into society. 

Lizzie and I felt that we were young hostesses, and 
took pains to be, according to our lights, ceremonious 
and conventional in our behavior. Some one or 
two of our guests was sure to be George Gordon, or 
James Southall, or " Jim " White, or " Sainty " Tucker, 
who were as brothers to us ; and very watchful and 
strict were these boy chaperons ! The great anxiety 
was lest our visitors should stay too late. So my 
aunt and Mrs. Gilmer carefully timed the burning 
of a candle until ten o'clock, and all candles there- 
after were cut that length. When they began to 
flicker in the sockets, good nights were expected. 

Mrs. Gilmer's large house was divided in the mid- 
dle by a hall extending to a door in the rear. On 
one side were the bedrooms of the family, on the 
other the parlors and dining-room. She spent her 
evenings in a darkened room, just across the hall 
from the parlor, and although she had not the heart 
to mingle with us, we knew she was near. 

One night we had a number of guests, among them 

My Day 59 

a stranger, Mr. Tebbs, brought by one of our own 
band who had introduced him and then left, Mr. 
Tebbs remarking that he too must soon leave, as a 
friend was down town waiting for him. The candles 
burned low, and we allowed long pauses in conver- 
sation, vainly hoping the stranger would depart. 
Presently the knocker sounded an alarum, and little 
Susan hurried from her mistress's room to answer it. 
We distinctly heard her announce, " Dish yer's a 
letter, Miss Ann," and Mrs. Gilmer's languid reply, 
"Light a candle and read it to me." We essayed to 
drown Susan's voice, for I was quite sure it was a 
peremptory order for me to come home, but it rang 
out clearly and deliberately, " Tebbs, you damn ras- 
cal ! Are you going to stay at Mrs. Gilmer's all 
night ! " To make matters worse, Susan immediately 
appeared with the note for the blushing Mr. Tebbs, 
who then and there bade us a long farewell. We 
never saw him more ! A delicious little story was 
told with keen relish by Juliet, the fifteen-year-old 
daughter. She had, as she thought, "grown up," 
while her mother lived in seclusion, and had a boy- 
lover of her own. Sitting, after hours, one moon- 
light night on the veranda under her mother's window, 
the anxious youth was moved to seize the propitious 
moment and declare himself. Juliet wished to answer 
correctly, and dismiss him without wounding him. 
She assured him " Mamma would never consent.' 
A voice from within decided the matter: "Accept 
the young man, Juliet, if you want to — I've not the 
least objection — and let him run along home now. 
Be sure to bolt the door when you come in ! " Evi- 

60 My Day 

dently Mrs. Gilmer had small respect for boy-lovers ; 
and wished to go to sleep. 

The Gilmer home was full of treasures of books 
and pictures. We turned over the great pages of 
Hogarth and the illustrations of Shakespeare, very 
much to the damage of these valuable books. Choice 
old Madeira was kept in the cellar, to which we had 
free access, mixing it with whipped cream or min- 
gling it with ice, sugar and nutmeg whenever we so 
listed. A great gilded frame rested against the wall, 
from which some large painting had been removed. 
Over this we stretched a netting and inaugurated table- 
aux vivantes, of which we never wearied. I was al- 
ways Rowena, to whom Lizzie, as Rebecca the Jewess, 
gave her jewels. One of the Gilmer boys made an 
admirable Dr. Primrose, another Moses, whom we 
dressed for the fair, and the other children were flower 
girls, nuns, or pilgrims with staff and shell. 

When one questions the possibility of this large 
family living for several years without a head and 
moving about decorously and systematically, we must 
not forget the family butler, Mandelbert, and his wife, 
Mammy Grace. Both were long past middle age. 
They simply assumed the care of their broken-hearted 
mistress and her children, ruling the house with 
patient wisdom and kindness. Mammy Grace, so 
well known fifty years ago in Virginia, was peculiar 
in her speech, retaining the imagery of her race and 
nothing of its dialect. She was straight and tall and 
always carefully dressed. She wore a dark, close-fit- 
ting gown, which she called a "habit," a handkerchief 
of plaid madras crossed upon her bosom, an ample 

My Day 61 

checked apron, and a cap with a full mob crown like 
Martha Washington's. When she dropped her re- 
spectful "curtsey," her salutation, "Your servant, 
master," was less suggestive of deference than of 
dignified self-respect. Her one fault was that, like 
her mistress, she never knew when the children were 
grown. This was sometimes embarrassing. As 
surely as 8 o'clock Saturday night came, one after 
the other would be called from the parlor, and would 
obey instantly, for fear she would add more than a 
hint of the thorough, personally superintended bath 
which awaited each one. 

Mandelbert was superb, tall, gray, and very stately. 
He had been born and trained in the family, a model, 
distingue-looking servant. Mammy Grace lived to 
an honored old age, but a liberal use of fine old 
Madeira proved the reverse of the modern lacteal 
remedy for old age. In a few years there was no 
more wine in the cellar — and no more Mandelbert. 

The grandmother of the Gilmer children was 
Mrs. Ann Baker, a lovely old lady who wore a Le- 
titia Ramolino turban, with little curls sewn within 
its brim. She had been a passenger on James 
Rumsey's boat in 1786 at Shepherdstown, when he 
was the first to succeed by steam alone in propelling 
a vessel against the current of the Potomac, and "at 
the rate of four or five miles an hour ! " She was a 
lovely, cultivated old lady, the widow of a distin- 
guished man. I cannot be quite sure, — all witnesses 
are gone, — but I have a distinct impression I was 
told that General Washington was a passenger with 
Mrs. Baker on James Rumsey's boat. 


THE year after my fifteenth birthday was des- 
tined to be an eventful one to me. In May 
of that year I wrote a letter to my aunt, 
Mrs. Izard Bacon Rice, who lived at " The Oaks " 
in Charlotte County. This letter, the earliest ex- 
tant of my girlhood, has recently been placed in my 
hands, and I venture to hope I may be pardoned 
for inserting the naive production here ; not for any 
intrinsic merit, but because of the light it reflects 
upon my development and associations at the age 
of fifteen, — a light not to be acquired by mere recol- 
lection, as a photograph of the person must be 
more lifelike than a sketch from memory. 

"Charlottesville, May 25, 1845. 

"My dear Aunt: I think that I have fully tested the 
truth of the old saying, viz. ' Hope deferred maketh the 
heart sick,' for I have hoped and hoped in vain for an 
answer to my last letter, and since it does not make its 
appearance, I write to request an explanation. 

" I received a letter from Willie (Carrington) this morn- 
ing, and was rejoiced to hear that you still intend coming 
to Charlottesville ' some of these times,' and that she 
thinks of coming also. I am overjoyed at the idea of see- 
ing my dear little Henry, and Tom in a few weeks. Willie 
says that Henry is beautiful, and that Tom has become 
quite a famous beau, improved wonderfully in gallantry, etc. 
I anticipate a great many long, pleasant walks with him, 


My Day 63 

though I am afraid he will not like Charlottesville, as he 
will find no rabbits' tracks or partridges here. I hope you 
will come the first of June and stay a long while with us. 

" Aunt Mary has been very unwell for a long time, but 
I am in hopes that she is getting a little better. I think 
your visit will improve her wonderfully. We are all as 
busy as we can be: aunt and uncle in the garden and yard, 
and I studying my French lessons, sewing, reading, and 
housekeeping for Aunt Mary when she is sick. I am 
very disconsolate at the thought of losing my most intimate 
friend (Lizzie Gilmer) for a few months. She is going to 
Staunton, and I expect to miss her very much. We have 
a very quiet time now — as most of my acquaintances were 
sent offzX. the late disturbances at the University, and I can 
study, undisturbed by company. I scarcely visit any one 
except Lizzy, and receive more visits from her than any 
one else, as she comes every day, and frequently two or 
three times a day. I am going to spend my last evening 
with her this evening, as she leaves to-morrow. I am very 
sorry that Willie will not see her, as I know .they would 
like each other. 

" Who do you think I have had a visit from ? No less 
a personage than Dr. Scheie de Vere, professor of modern 
languages at the University. He has called on me twice, 
but I, unfortunately, was not at home once when he called. 
He is a German (one of the nobility), and speaks our lan- 
guage shockingly, and is such an incessant chatterer that he 
gives me no possible chance of wedging in a syllable. He 
walked with me from church last Sunday, and jabbered in- 
cessantly, much to the amusement of the congregation in 
general, but particularly of two little boys who walked be- 
hind us. When he parted with us, he asked uncle's per- 
mission to visit us, which was granted ; and he seemed 
very grateful, and said he ' would have de pleasure den of 
sharing de doctor's hospitality and hearing some of Miss 

64 My Day 

Rice's fine music' But what mortifies me beyond meas- 
ure is that he treats me as a little child, and inquires most 
affectionately about my progress in music, etc. He is not 
so much older than I am, either, as he is only twenty-one, 
so / think he might be more respectful in his demeanor. 
What do you think of it all ? He plays very well on the 
piano, and has heard the best performers in Europe, so I 
feel very reluctant to play for him. The first time he 
heard me play, he wanted to applaud me as they do at con- 
certs, but he was checked by one of the company, who inti- 
mated to him that it was not customary in this country, so 
he contented himself with clapping his hands several times. 
" I have neither time nor paper for much more, so good- 
by. Aunt Mary joins me in love and a kiss to all grand- 
father's household and to Tom, Henry, and Uncle Izard. 

" Yours affectionately, 

"Sara A. Rice. 

" P.S. I send my best respects to Lethe, Viny, and Aunt 
Chany, and my love to all the ducks, geese, chickens, tur- 
keys, and Tom's dogs. 

" Yours affectionately, 

"Sara A. Rice." 

This sixty-four-year-old letter was beautifully writ- 
ten with a quill pen, clear and distinct without an 
erasure, blotted with sand from a perforated box, 
without envelope, and sealed with wax. Written in 
figures upon the envelope was " Uncle Sam's " re- 
ceipt for prepaid postage, 1 1\ cents, no stamps hav- 
ing then been issued by him. 

Fanciful seals and motto wafers were in high favor 
among romantic young people. cc L'amitie c'est 
l'amour sans ailes " was a prime favorite ; also a 
maiden in a shallop looking upward to a star, the 

My Day 65 

legend " Si je te perds je suis perdu." The most 
delicate refusal to a lover on record was the lady's 
card, " With thanks," sealed with a bird in flight and 
" Liberty is sweet ! " 

The " disturbances of late," for which my friends 
were " suspended for a month," were not of a serious 
nature. They were only the midnight pranks of 
mischievous boys, such as hyphenating the livery- 
stable's name " Le Tellier " to read " Letel-Liar, " 
drawing his " hacks " to the doors of the citizens, 
placing the undertaker's sign over the physician's 
office, driving Mr. Scheie's ponies, and leaving on 
their flanks the painted words " So far for to-day," 
the phrase with which he invariably ended his lec- 
tures. It remained later for the student in whom I 
was most interested to excel them all. He drove a 
flock of sheep one dark night up the rotunda stairs 
to the platform on the roof, and then shut down the 
trap-door. A plaintive good-morning-bleating wel- 
comed faculty and students next day. Needless to 
say, the valiant shepherd was " suspended." 

Late in the summer of this year another large 
convention of clergymen, Presbyterian this time, 
was held at Charlottesville. No good hotel could 
be found anywhere in Virginia. The landlord was 
ruined by the hospitality of the citizens. As soon 
as a pleasant stranger " put up " at a public house, 
he was claimed as a guest by the first man who could 
reach him. 

When large religious or political or literary meet- 
ings convened in our town, my uncle would send 
to the chairman asking for the number of guests 

66 My Day 

we could entertain. Until they arrived, we were as 
much on the qui vive as if we had bought numbers 
in a lottery. 

On this occasion, Lizzie and I were in great grief. 
She had been away from town for two months, and 
was now to make me a long visit. We had made 
plans for a lovely week. Now the house would be 
filled with clergymen, — no music, no visitors (and 
Lizzie was engaged), no "fun"! My aunt sym- 
pathized with us, and fitted up a small room at the 
far end of the hall, moved in the piano and guitar, 
and bade us make ourselves at home. 

We were seated at church behind a row of the 
grave and reverend seniors, when Dr. White leaned 
over our pew and said to one of them, " I'm glad to 
tell you I can send you to Dr. Hargrave's. He 
will take fine care of you." 

" But," demurred the reverend gentleman, " I 
have my son with me." 

" Take him along ! There's plenty of room," re- 
plied the doctor. 

Lizzie gave me a despairing glance. Now we are 
ruined, we thought. A dreadful small boy to be 
amused and kept out of mischief. 

That afternoon we were condoling with each other 
in our little city of refuge, when the opening front 
door revealed among our guests a slender youth, 
who, upon being directed to his room, sprang up 
the stairs two or three steps at a time. 

"Mercy !" said I. " Worse and worse ! There's 
no hope for us ! A strange young man to be enter- 
tained in our little parlor ! " 

My Day 67 

My aunt entering just then, we confided our mis- 
eries to her. " Never mind, Lizzie," she said, " Sara 
shall keep him in the large room. She must bring 
down all her prettiest books and pictures and ar- 
range a table in a corner for his amusement. He 
will not be here much of the time. He has to go 
to church with his father, you know." 

The name of this unwelcome intruder was Roger 
A. Pryor. He made himself charming. I had not 
yet tucked up my long braids, but he treated me 
beautifully. He was so alert, so witty, so amiable, 
that he was unanimously voted the freedom of our 
sanctum. He entered with glee into our schemes 
for self-defence. Running out to a shrub on the lawn, 
he returned with a handful of " wax berries," gravely 
explained, " ammunition," and proceeded to test the 
range of the missile. Just then one of the enemy, the 
great Dr. Plumer, entered the hall, and the soft berry 
neatly reached his dignified nose. His Reverence 
gave no sign of intelligence. He had been a boy him- 

St. George Tucker took an immense fancy to our 
new ally. He found a great deal to say to me. 
How glad was I that my aunt had given me a new 
rose-colored silk bonnet from Mme. Viglini's. 

The week passed like a dream. When the stage 
drew up at midnight to take our guest to the rail- 
road, seven miles distant, we were both very triste 
at parting. 

He was sixteen years old, was to graduate next 
summer at Hampden Sidney College, and come the 
session afterward to our University. I hoped all 

68 My Day 

would go well with him; and after the winding horn 
of the stage was quite out of hearing, I, — well, I had 
been taught early to entreat the Father of all to take 
care of my friends. There could be no great harm 
in including him by name, nor yet in adding to my 
petition the words "for me!" 

I suppose I may have seemed a bit distrait after 
this incident, for my uncle, who was always devising 
occupation for me, insisted upon my writing a story. 
I liked to please him, and I surprised him by produc- 
ing a love story. I think I called it " The Birthnight 
Ball." I remember this quotation, which I con- 
sidered quite delicate and suggestive : — 

" The stars, with vain ambition, emulate her eyes." 
That is all I remember of my story. My uncle sent 
it to the Saturday Evening Post in Philadelphia and 
it was accepted, the editor proposing, as I was a young 
writer, to waive the honorarium ! I was only too glad 
to accept the honor. 

In the autumn my uncle took us on a long journey 
to Niagara Falls and the Northern Lakes. In New 
York we stopped at the Astor House on Broadway, 
and my room looked into the park then opposite, 
where scarlet flamingoes gathered around a fountain. 
We walked in the beautiful Bowling Green Park, 
then the fashionable promenade, took tea with the 
Miss Bleeckers on Bleecker Street, and bought a lovely 
set of turquoises, a jewelled comb, and a white topaz 
brooch from Tiffany's. Moreover, my seat at table 
was near that of John Quincy Adams, now an aged 
man, paralytic, and almost incapable of conveying 
his food to his lips. He was charmingly cheer- 

My Day 69 

fill, and courteous to a sweet-faced lady who 
attended him. 

I think we took the canal-boat in Schenectady 
which was to convey us across the state of New 

My uncle had been beguiled in New York by a 
flaming pictorial advertisement of palatial packet- 
boats, drawn by spirited horses galloping at full speed. 
When we entered our little craft, we found it so 
crowded that we were wretchedly uncomfortable. 
Possibly, in our ignorance, we had not taken the fine 
packet of the advertisement. Our own boat crawled 
along at a snail's pace, making three or four miles an 
hour. Many of the passengers left it every morning, 
preferring to walk ahead and wait for us until night. 
We made the journey in five or six days. The 
heat, the discomfort, the mosquitoes ! Who can 
imagine the misery of that journey ? Fresh from the 
mountains and gorgeous sunsets of Albemarle, we 
found little to admire in the scenery. 

As to the Falls, which we had come so far to see 
— they and their entourage made me ill. It was all 
so weird and strange; the dark forests of evergreen, 
pine, and spruce ; the sullen Indians, squatted around 
blankets, embroidering with beads and porcupine 
quills; the hapless little Indian babies strapped to 
boards and swinging in the trees, and over all, the 
heavy roar of the waters. The immensity of their 
power filled me with terror. I longed to get away 
from the awful spectacle. 

The best part of a journey is the home-coming. 
The dear familiar house, — we never knew how good 

jo My Day 

it was, — the welcome of affectionate, cheerful ser- 
vants ; the clogs beside themselves with joy, the per- 
fect peace, leisure, relaxation ! Flowers, fruit, and 
much accumulated mail awaited us. My keen eye 
detected a large-enveloped paper from Philadelphia, 
and my nimble fingers quickly abstracted it, unper- 
ceived, from the miscellaneous heap, and consigned 
it to a bureau drawer in my room, the key of which 
went into my pocket. 

In the privacy of my bedtime hour — having 
bolted the door — I drew it forth. Oh, what in- 
ane foolishness ! What sad trash ! Tearing it into 
strips, I lighted each one at my candle and saw 
the whole burned — burned to impalpable smoke 
and degraded dust and ashes ; consigned then and 
there to utter oblivion ! 

My uncle often wondered why the story had not 
appeared. There was a perilous moment when he 
threatened to write to the publishers, but I per- 
suaded him to be patient and dignified about it, and 
the matter, after a while, was forgotten. Never was 
an uncle so managed by a young girl ! 

I think my great card with him was my interest 
in his office work. Physicians compounded and 
prepared their own prescriptions sixty-five years ago. 
He delighted in me when I donned my ample apron 
and, armed with scales and spatula, gravely assumed 
the airs of a physician's assistant. I knew all his 
professional manoeuvres to satisfy hypochondriac old 
gentlemen and nervous old ladies. I learned to 
make the innocuous pills which " helped " them " so 
much," and the carminative for the aching little stom- 

Mrs. Fanny Bland Randolph. 

My Day 71 

achs of the babies. Great have been the strides since 
then in the noblest of all professions ! 

Just here I venture to illustrate some of the radi- 
cal changes in the practice of medicine by extracts 
from a letter written by Dr. Theodorick Bland to 
his sister, Fanny Bland Randolph. The letter is 
copied from the original in the possession of the late 
Joseph Bryan of Richmond, Virginia. 

The treatment in 1840 differed in no material 
particular from that of 1771, when Dr. Bland 
prescribed — regretting the necessity of "absent 
treatment" — to his sister's husband, John Ran- 
dolph, as follows : — 

u I take Mr. Randolph's case to be a bilious intermit- 
tent, something of the inflammatory kind, which, had he 
been bled pretty plentifully in the beginning, would have 
intermitted perfectly; but unless his pulse is hard and, as it 
were, laboring and strong, I would not advise that he should 
now be bled ; but if they are strong and his head-ache vio- 
lent, and the weight of the stomach great, let him lose 
about six ounces of blood from the arm, and if he is much 
relieved from that, and his pulse rises and is full and strong 
after it, a little more may be taken. Let his body be kept 
open by Glysters, made with chicken water, molasses, de- 
coction of marsh-mallows and manna, given once, twice or 
three times, — nay, even four times a day if occasion re- 
quires, and let him have manna and cream of tartar dis- 
solved in Barley Water, — one ounce of manna and a half 
ounce of Cream of Tartar to every pint. Of this let him 
drink plentifully, but prior to this, after bleeding (should 
bleeding be necessary) let him take a vomit of Ipecac, four 
grains every half hour until he has four or five plentiful 
vomits, drinking plentifully of Camomile Tea (to three or 

J2 My Day 

four pints at intervals) to work it off. Should the pain in 
the head be violent and the eyes red and heavy, let his tem- 
ples be cupped or leeches applied to his temples, which 
operation may be repeated every day, if he find relief from 
it, for two or three days. If the manna, Cream of Tartar 
and Glysters be not effectual, let him take fifteen grains of 
rhubarb and as many of Vitriolated Tartar, repeating the 
dose, twice or three times at six or eight hours intervals. 
Should he have any catching of the nerves, let one of the 
powders be given every four hours in a spoonful of jalop or 
pennyroyal water. Should he be delirious, sleepy, or dozing 
in a half kind of a sleep, his pulse small and quick, put 
blisters to his back, arms and legs, and leeches and cupping 
to his temples. If his skin should be hot, dry and parched 
after he has taken his vomit or before, let him be put in a 
tub of warm water with vinegar in it, up to his arm-pits and 
continue in it as long as he can bear it, first wetting his 
head therein. He may, now and then, drink a little claret- 
whey and have his tongue sponged with sage-tea, honey 
and vinegar. Dear Fanny, with sincere wishes for his safe 
and speedy recovery, and love to him and your dear little 

" Your affectionate brother, 

" T. Bland." 

It is difficult to imagine that one of the " dear 
little ones" was John Randolph of Roanoke — that 
incarnation of genius and outrageous temper. His 
father survived Dr. Bland's treatment only a few 
years. Still, fidelity to historic truth impels me to 
state that we have no evidence that the doctor was 
in league with Henry St. George Tucker, who al- 
most immediately married the widow ! 


ANY of the best types of purely American 
society could have been found in the forties 
in the towns of the country. Now every- 
body, high and low, rich and poor, seeks a home in 
the cities. It is not without reason that all classes 
should flock to the metropolis. There wealth can 
be enjoyed, poverty aided, talent appreciated ; but 
there individual influence is almost lost. The 
temptation to self-assertion, repugnant as it is to re- 
fined feeling, is almost irresistible. Men and women 
must assert themselves or sink into oblivion. No- 
body has time to climb the rickety stairs to find the 
genius in the attic. Nobody looks for the states- 
man among the serene adherents to the "Simple 
Life." Had Cincinnatus lived at this day, he would 
have ploughed to the end of his furrow. Nobody 
would have interrupted him. 

The absence of all the hurry and fever of life made 
the little town of Charlottesville an ideal home before 
the cataclysm of 1 86 1 . The professors at the Uni- 
versity could live, in the moderate age, upon their 
modest salaries, and have something to spare for 
entertaining. The village contingent was refined, 
amiable, and intelligent. Staunton sent us, every 
winter, her young ladies, the daughters of Judge 
Lucas Thompson, all of whom were finally absorbed 


74 My Day 

by the descendants of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, 
Maryland. From the neighborhood on the Buck- 
mountain Road came the family of William C. Rives, 
twice our envoy to the Court of Versailles, and many 
times sent to the Senate of the United States. The 
"gallant Gordons, many a one," the Randolphs and 
Pages, and Mr. Stevenson, late Minister to England, 
— all these lived near enough to be neighbors and 
visitors. Across Moore's Creek, at the foot of 
Monticello, was the house of Mr. Alexander Rives. 
There lived my sweet friend and bridesmaid, Eliza 
Rives, and there I could call for a glass of lemonade 
when on my way to Monticello, guiding, as I often 
did, some stranger-guest to visit the home of Thomas 
Jefferson. We would pass through the straggling 
bushes of Scottish broom which bordered the road — 
planted originally by Mr. Jefferson himself — pause 
at the modest monument over his ashes, and rever- 
ently ponder the inscription thereon. In his own 
handwriting, among his papers, had been found the 
record he desired — n .iat he had been Minister 
to France and Secretary of State, not that he had been 
twice President of the United States, but simply, — 

" Here lies buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the 
Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of 
Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the Uni- 
versity of Virginia." 

A few steps through the woods would bring us to 
the plateau commanding the noble view I have tried 
to describe. I loved the spot, the glorious moun- 
tains, the glimpse at our feet of the Greek temple 

My Day 75 

in its sacred grove, the atmosphere of mystery and 
romance. Once I saw a solitary fleur-de-lis unfurl- 
ing its imperial banner on the site of the abandoned 
garden. Once I was permitted, in the absence of 
the owner, to explore an upper floor in the villa, and 
was startled by a white, strained face gleaming out 
from a dim alcove. This was the bust of Voltaire. 
A happy, happy young girl was I on these rides, 
mounted on my own horse, Phil Duval, and not 
unconscious of my becoming green cloth habit, 
green velvet turban, and long green feather, fastened 
with a diamond buckle — as I believed it to be ! 
I Young girls reared in a university town and ad- 
mitted to the friendship of the professors' families 
must be dull indeed if they absorb nothing from 
the literary atmosphere. My dear aunt was an 
accomplished English scholar. Her father had 
been the friend and neighbor of Patrick Henry, 
her husband had been one of John Randolph's phy- 
sicians. My close friends, the Gilmers, Southalls, 
and the daughters of Professor Harrison, all had 
brothers who were students, and we strove to keep 
pace with these fine young fellows and meet them 
on English ground at least. 

We had no circulating library in Charlottesville, 
and depended upon the mails for our current literature. 
We saw Graham's Magazine from Philadelphia, the 
Home Journal from New York, the Southern Liter- 
ary Messenger from Richmond. Dickens's novels 
reached us from London, issued then in monthly 
sections, and we impatiently awaited them. " Oh, 
Sara, have you been introduced to Mr. Toots ? " 

y6 My Day 

wrote Maria Gordon ; "he is so much in love with 
Florence Dombey, he 'feels as if somebody was 
a-settin'on him ! ' " 

We liked Dickens better than Walter Scott. We 
found the remarks of Captain Clutterbuck and the 
Rev. Dryasdust hard to bear, barring the door to the 
enchanted palace until they had their say. To be 
sure, Dickens could be tiresome too, pausing in the 
middle of an exciting story while somebody — the 
"stroller" or the "bagman" — related something 
wholly irrelevant. To my mind, a story within a 
story was a nuisance. It was like a patch on a 
garment. The garment might be homespun and the 
patch satin, but it was a blemish, nevertheless, some- 
thing put on to help a weak place. I skipped these 
stories then and skip them now ! 

As to Thackeray, I blush to say we did not appre- 
ciate him when he appeared as " Michael Angelo 
Titmarsh." But we all knew Becky ! She was only 
a sublimated little Miss Betsy Stevens, a ragged 
mountain woman who sold peaches on a small com- 
mission, and who, like Becky, having " no mamma" 
or other asset, lived by her wits. 

Perhaps in our estimation of Thackeray we 
were guided somev/hat by his own countrymen. An 
English paper fell in our hands which was not at 
all respectful to " Chawls-Yellowplush-Angelo-Tit- 
marsh-Jeames-William-Makepeace-Thackeray, Es- 
quire of London Town in old England." Such 
ridicule would soon settle him ! No man could 
survive it. 

None of the visiting authors deigned to call on 

My Day 77 

us, — Thackeray, Dickens, Miss Marti neau, — all 
passed us by. True, Frederika Bremer conde- 
scended to spend a night with her compatriot, Mr. 
Scheie de Vere, en route to the South, where she was 
to find little to admire except bananas., Mr. Scheie 
invited a choice company to spend the one evening 
Miss Bremer granted him. Her novels were ex- 
tremely popular with us. Every one was on tiptoe 
of pleased anticipation. While the waiting company 
eagerly expected her, the door opened — not for 
Miss Bremer, but her companion, who an- 
nounced : — 

" Miss Bremer, she beg excuse. She ver tired 
and must sleep ! If she come, she gape in your 
noses ! " 

Alas for tourist's help in the translating books ! 
"Face" and "nose," "gape" and "yawn," al- 
though not synonymic, bear at least a cousinly re- 
lation to each other. 

The beautiful Christian custom of lighting a Christ- 
mas tree — bringing " the glory of Lebanon, the fir 
tree, the pine tree, and the box," to hallow our festival 
— had not yet obtained in Virginia. We had heard 
much of the German Christmas tree, but had never 
seen one. Lizzie Gilmer, who was to marry a younger 
son of the house, was intimate with the Tuckers, 
and brought great reports of the preparation of the 
first Christmas tree ever seen in Virginia. 

I had not yet been allowed to attend the parties 
of "grown-up" people, but our young friend John 
Randolph Tucker was coming of age on Christmas 
Eve, and great pressure was brought to bear upon 

78 My Day 

my aunt to permit me to attend the birthday cele- 
bration. This was a memorable occasion. " Rare 
Ran Tucker " was a prime favorite with the older 
set, handsome, distingue, and already marked for the 
high place he attained later on the honor roll of his 

My aunt could not persist in her rules for me, 
and I was permitted, provided I went as " a little 
girl in a high-necked dress," to accompany Lizzie. 
My much-discussed gown was of blue silk, open- 
ing over white, and laced from throat to hem with 
narrow black velvet ! Never, never was girl as 
happy ! The tree loaded with tiny baskets of bon- 
bons, each enriched with an original rhyming jest or 
sentiment, was magnificent, the supper delicious, the 
speeches and poems from the two old judges (Tucker) 
were apt and witty. I went as a little girl — a close 
bud — but no " high-necked " gown ever prisoned a 
happier heart. 

It seems to me, as I look back, that my Univer- 
sity friends, Mr. Scheie de Vere, James Southall, 
William C. Rives, Jr., George Wythe Randolph, 
Roger Pryor, et a/., felt all at once a very kind interest 
in my education. They sent me no end of books. 
The last presented me with a gorgeous Shakespeare, 
also Macaulay's "Essays," Hazlitt's "Age of Eliza- 
beth " and Leigh Hunt's "Fancy and Imagination," 
and came himself to read them to me, along with 
Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Coleridge. Mr. Scheie 
sent me much music and French literature, he also 
coming to read the latter with me. William C. Rives 
loved my music, to which he could listen by the 

My Day 79 

hour.j I kept the friendship of these brilliant men 
as long as they lived. Only two lived to be old. 

The Tuckers were a family of literary distinction — 
One of the happiest and wittiest of them was my 
dear Lizzie's husband, St. George Tucker. Any- 
thing, everything, would provoke a pun, a parody, 
or a graceful rhyme. 

When it was proposed to change the name of 
" Competition " — a court-house village in the county 
of Pittsylvania — to "Chatham," he produced a 
pencil and paper, and in a moment gave : — 

" Illustrious Pitt, how glorious is thy fame, 
When Competition dies in Chatham's name." 

He was a friend of G. P. R. James, whom he once 
surprised eating a very " ripe " cheese. 

" You see, Tucker, I am, like Samson, slaying my 

" And with the same weapon ? " inquired St. 

We had a delightful addition to our society in 
Powhatan Starke, who came from the Eastern Shore, 
and spent a year first as a guest of the Southalls, 
and later of all of us. He seemed to have been 
created for the express purpose of making people 
happy. He would have us all convulsed with laugh- 
ter while he held the woollen skeins for my aunt's 
knitting. He taught me on the piano waltzes not 
to be found in the books ; and the polka, a new 
dance with picturesque figures just then introduced. 
Hejoined in and enhanced every scheme for pleasure, 
and would finally spend half the night serenading us. 

80 My Day 

" The serenade," according to a recent definition, 
"is a cherished courtship custom of primitive socie- 
ties." Courtship had nothing to do with it in 1847. 
It was only a delicate compliment to ladies who had 
entertained the serenaders. Four or five voices in 
unison would sing such songs as " Oft in the Stilly 
Night," " The Last Rose of Summer," " Eileen 
Aroon," " Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," and one 
voice render Rizzio's lovely song : — 

" Queen of my soul whose starlit eyes 
Are all the light I seek, 
Whose voice in sweetest melodies 
Can love or pardon speak ; 
I yield me to thy soft control 
Mary — Mary — Queen of my soul ! 
(Chorus) Mary ! Mary ! Queen of my soul ! " 

With the first twang of the guitar strings we would 
slip from our beds, find our shawls and slippers, and 
creep downstairs. Crouched close to the door, we 
would listen for Vive V amour, the song always con- 
cluding the serenade : — 

" Let every bachelor fill up his glass, 
Vive la Compagnie ! 
And drink to the health of his favorite lass, 
Vive la Compagnie ! ' ' 

And just here, rising as it were to a question of privi- 
lege concerning individual rights, let me solemnly 
assure my reader that I do not plagiarize from 
" Trilby." The low-hanging fruit of Mr. Du 
Maurier's bountiful orchard is to be desired to 
make wise the daughters of Eve, but this Eve has 
no occasion to rob it. Au contraire! Powhatan 

My Day 81 

Starke had brought this song from Paris in the 
forties and sung it for us twenty years before, ac- 
cording to Du Maurier, the " genteel Carnegie " 
had given it in his hiccupy voice to the Laird, 
Taffy, Little Billie, Dodor, Zouzou, and the rest. 

Personally, I should like to help myself with both 
hands to the clever things the young authors are 
writing. But I am " proud, tho' poor ! " Besides, I 
should be found out ! " Mon verre n'est pas grand, 
mais je bois dans mon verre." 

I know, I have heard, but one verse of this im- 
mortal song. All the rest were freshly made, 
whether at dinner, evening party, or moonlight sere- 
nade, to suit the company and the occasion. The 
chorus, as rendered by Carnegie the genteel, was : — 

" Veeverler, Veeverler, ve verier vee 
Veverler Companyee." 

But my friend twenty years before respected it 
enough to be accurate : — 

" Vive ! Vive ! Vive 1' amour 
Vive la compagnie ! ' ' 

Only he, like les autres, sometimes dropped his 
" r's." They were all nice in their pronunciation. 
They gave to the broad " a " its fullest due. 

"E'en the slight hahbell raised its head 
Elahstic from her ahry tread ! ' ' 

exclaimed George Gordon, as one of the maidens 
tripped across the lawn. But even he was some- 
times indifferent to the rights, as a terminal, of the 
letter " r " ; for only as a terminal does the Southern 

82 My Day 

tongue utterly scorn it. When but a lisping infant, 
a possible orator was drilled in the test words : — 

"Around the rugged rocks 
The ragged rascal ran," 

and taught to roll the elusive consonant to the ut- 
most limit. 

But I must linger no longer in this enchanted 
valley among the mountains. A long road lies be- 
fore me. I must pass swiftly on. With just such 
trifling events I might fill my book. Dear to every 
heart are the annals of its youth ; before we enter 
the vast world of — 

" Effort, and expectation and desire — 
And something evermore about to be." 

We cherish the sweet nothings of a happy time as 
we preserve dried rose-leaves. Mayhap through 
their faint fragrance we may dream the rose ! 

It was a busy time as well as a happy time. I 
was helping Mrs. William C. Rives build a church ; 
I was hemstitching all the ruffles for Thomasia 
Woodson's trousseau ; I was playing waltzes, ad 
infinitum, at the house-parties in Charlotte — the 
Henrys and Carringtons — and singing campaign 
songs, to the great delight of my dear grandfather, 
in honor of my old friend, Henry Clay, whom we 
were once more trying to make our President : — 

" Get out o' the way, you're all unlucky ; 
Clear the track for old Kentucky ! " 

(And just here I wish to record the fact that only 
once in all my life did my old grandfather ever re- 

My Day 83 

prove me. I had committed a flagrant act of lese 
majestic I had put a nightcap on the bust of 
Patrick Henry !) 

But my dear aunt's invitations, written on paper 
embossed with an orange-blossom and tied with 
white satin ribbon, were now issued for my wedding. 

I had begun my acquaintance with the young 
man known now as " the General," or " the Judge," 
by beseeching God to take care of him. According 
to my Presbyterian training, I was taught that every 
prayer must be followed by efforts for its fulfilment. 
It was clearly my duty "to take care of him." He 
needed it. 


TWO years after our marriage, my husband 
was seriously ill from an affection of the throat, 
and consulted Dr. Green, an eminent specialist 
of Philadelphia. He was ordered to a warmer cli- 
mate, and forbidden to speak in or out of court. 
The tiny law office at a corner of the court green in 
Charlottesville was abandoned, and we hastened to 
Petersburg, near his birthplace. As it was ab- 
solutely impossible for him to exist without occupa- 
tion, he purchased a newspaper, sallied forth one 
morning to solicit subscribers for " The South Side 
Democrat" and before a week's end was justified in 
beginning its issue. 

This step determined his career in life. He did 
not practise law until he came to New York in 1865. 
At the age of twenty-two he became an enthusi- 
astic editor. The little South Side Democrat soon 
evinced pluck and spirit. Its youthful editor sailed 
his small craft right into the troubled sea of politics, 
local and national, to sink or swim according to its 
merits and the wisdom of its pilot. It was loved of 
the gods, with the inevitable result, — but not until 
he left it. 

I remember our first meeting with Stephen A. 
Douglas, so soon to become a conspicuous figure in 
our political history. He had just returned from 
Europe, and was passing through Petersburg with 


Stephen A. Douglas. 

My Day 85 

his first wife (Miss Martin of North Carolina), and 
of course glad to talk with the editor of a Democratic 
paper, aspiring as he did to the highest office in 
the country. He was thirty-nine years old, and 
below the average height. But the word insignificant 
could never have been applied to him. There was 
something in his air, his carriage, that forbade it. 
His massive head, his resolute face, more than com- 
pensated for his short stature. 

He has always been accused of rude, unconven- 
tional manners. He was enough of a courtier to 
inform me that I resembled the Empress Eugenie. 

To us he took the trouble to be charming, talked 
of his European experience — of everything, in fact, 
except the perilous stuff burning in his own bosom, 
his hunger for the presidency. Like my editor, he 
had been admitted to the bar before he had reached 
his majority. The parallel was to appear again 
later. Mr. Douglas also had been a representative 
in Congress at thirty. 

My husband was a delegate to the Democratic 
Convention that nominated Franklin Pierce in 1852, 
and Mr. Douglas suffered himself to be a candidate. 

The " Little Giant " received at first only 20 
votes, but he steadily increased until Virginia cast 
her 15 votes for Mr. Pierce, after which there was 
" a stampede " which decided the matter. Some 
writer reminded Douglas that vaulting ambition 
overleaps itself, but added dryly, " Perhaps the little 
Judge never read Shakespeare and does not think of 

An interesting event in Petersburg was a brief 

86 My Day 

visit from Louis Kossuth en route to the Southern 
and Western cities, his avowed purpose being " to 
invoke the aid of the great American republic to 
protect his people ; peaceably, if they may, by the 
moral influence of their declarations ; but forcibly, if 
they must, by the physical power of their arm — to 
prevent any foreign interference in the struggle to be 
renewed for the liberties of Hungary." 

Our Congress, it will be remembered, 1 had, after 
Kossuth's defeat and his detention in Turkey — 
whither he had fled for refuge — directed the Presi- 
dent to offer one of the ships of our Mediterranean 
squadron to bring him and his suite to our country. 
The Turkish government had no especial use for Gov- 
ernor Kossuth as a guest or as a captive, and accord- 
ingly he landed from the steamer Vanderbilt which 
had been sent with a committee to meet him, at 
New York quarantine, December 5, 1851, at one 
o'clock in the morning. Early as was the hour, a 
great crowd collected on shore to greet him. A 
salute of twenty-one guns and an address of welcome 
from the health-officer at once assured him that he 
came to us, not to be pitied as a defeated refugee, 
but to receive all honor due a conquering hero. 
As his boat steamed by, Governor's Island gave him 
a salute of thirty-one guns, New Jersey one hun- 
dred and twenty, and New York, — but we know how 
New York can behave ! Steamers, great and small, 
whistled, pistols and guns were fired, Hungarian 
cheers were shouted, and our Stars and Stripes took 
into close embrace the Hungarian flag. We know 

1 Rhodes's " History of the United States," Vol. I., pp. 231 et seq. 

My Day 87 

New York hospitality, and her enthusiasm, nay, crazy 
excitement when something, anything, novel and in- 
teresting happens. 

When Kossuth reached Castle Garden, the un- 
happy mayor essayed in vain to read his speech. 
Speech, indeed ! A hundred thousand throats were 
aching with a speech, and they delivered it with a 
roar ! 

"There was," says a reporter, "a continuous roar 
of cheers like waves on the shore." Every house 
was decorated ; and as the hero passed, mounted on 
Black Warrior, a horse which had borne conquerors 
in many Florida and Mexican wars, the street was 
jammed with enthusiastic people, and the windows 
alive with women and children. Never, since the 
landing of Lafayette, had New York so abandoned 
herself to enthusiasm. The story is too long — of 
the speeches, processions, dinners, receptions, fire- 
works, etc. — to be repeated fully in these pages. 

Of course, the little South Side Democrat threw 
up its cap with the rest. Kossuth, when he reached 
the town, had already received honors of which his 
wildest fancy never dreamed, and we did our best to 
echo them according to our ability. There were 
several ladies in his suite to whom I paid my respects 
(I am not sure his wife was among them), and the 
only impression they made upon me was one of ex- 
treme weariness. They spoke English fairly well, 
but were too utterly worn out to exhibit the least 
animation. Kossuth spoke English perfectly. He 
had a long talk with my young editor, to whom he 
gave a huge cigar, which was never reduced to ashes! 

88 My Day 

But after he left, the South Side Democrat came to 
its senses (having never utterly lost them), and ex- 
pressed a decided opinion in favor of the non-inter- 
vention of this country in the affairs of Hungary, 
giving good reasons therefor. Kossuth, when the 
paper was handed him, read the editorial carefully, 
and exclaimed, " So youngs and yet so depraved ! " 
adding, with his usual tact, " I mean, of course, 
politically ! " 

But even at this highest pinnacle of glory in New 
York, when an editorial banquet was given him at 
The Astor by George Bancroft, William Cullen 
Bryant, Henry J. Raymond, Parke Godwin, Henry 
Ward Beecher, Charles A. Dana, and others, Mr. 
Webster had coldly declined attendance. 

His letter was received with hisses and groans. 
" Kossuth," said Mr. Webster, in a private letter 
from Washington, " is a gentleman in appearance 
and demeanor, is handsome enough in person, 
evidently intellectual and dignified, amiable and grace- 
ful in his manners. I shall treat him with all per- 
sonal and individual respect ; but if he should speak 
to me of the policy of ' intervention,' I shall have 
ears more deaf than adders'." 

The Senate, the President, Congress, all received 
him cordially. He dined at the White House; was 
treated with the utmost distinction, and a seat of 
honor assigned him on the floor of the Senate ; but 
before he left Washington, every one except himself 
knew that his mission had failed. He soon discov- 
ered it, and appealed no longer for intervention but 
for money. He complained bitterly at Pittsburg 

My Day 89 

that he had received little but costly banquets and 
foolish parades. The net amount of the contribu- 
tions to his cause was less than $100,000, and accord- 
ing to his statement at Pittsburg, only $30,000 
remained for the purchase of muskets. We had 
expressed with enthusiasm our appreciation of his pa- 
triotism, courage, and devotion. We had enter- 
tained him en prince. We had added a substantial 
gift. It was not enough. 

The citizens of New York very soon calmed down, 
and by the middle of January the name of Kossuth 
was rarely mentioned. When Congress came to 
audit his hotel bill, it fairly gasped ! The retainers 
of the poor refugee had not been poor livers. They 
had occupied luxurious apartments, and proved be- 
yond a shadow of doubt the Hungarian appreciation 
of old Madeira and champagne. No one, however, 
could accuse the hero himself of excess. Still, all at 
once, he seemed less of a hero. 

One unprejudiced looker-on in Vienna, Ampere, 
wrote of Kossuth at the editorial dinner, " He has 
the bad taste to love fanciful dress, wore a levite of 
black velvet, and seemed to me much less imposing 
than when he harangued, leaning upon his sword, in 
the hall at Castle Garden." Ampere also philoso- 
phizes upon our American enthusiasm, — "the only 
lively amusement of the multitude in a country where 
one has little to amuse one. It is without conse- 
quence and without danger, simply to let out the 
steam ( a lacker la vapeur), not to cause explosions 
but to prevent them." 

" The American likes excitement," says Bryce in 

90 My Day 

" The American Commonwealth," " but he is shrewd 
and keen ; his passion seldom obscures his reason ; he 
keeps his head when a Frenchman, or an Italian, or 
even a German, would lose it. Yet he is also of 
an excitable temper, with emotions capable of being 
quickly and strongly stirred. He likes excitement 
for its own sake, and goes wherever he can find it." 

The Kossuth episode vividly illustrated this ! 
Sic transit gloria — be it prince or patriot ! 

My young editor had soon to leave the South Side 
Democrat under the care of a foster-father. He was 
summoned to Washington — lured less by a fine 
salary than the larger field — to edit with John W. 
Forney the Washington Union, then the national 
Democratic organ. It was desired that one of the 
two editors should be from the South. Mr. Forney 
represented the North. 


E had the good fortune to secure pleasant 
rooms in the large boarding-house of Mrs. 
Tully Wise, sister of Henry A. Wise of 
Virginia. Mrs. Wise had a number of agreeable 
people in her house: Professor and Mrs. Spenser 
Baird of the Smithsonian Institution ; Professor 
Baird's assistants, — Mr. Turner, an Englishman, and 
a Swiss naturalist whom Professor Baird addressed 
as " George," — Mr. James Heth, Commissioner of 
Pensions, and his family; Commodore Pennock and 
his wife, sister of Mrs. (Admiral) Farragut, and 
others. I must not forget Miss Dick, whose rooms 
were above mine, and who hovered around like the 
plump, busy little bird that she was. A long table in 
the dining-room was filled with " new " people — de- 
sirable possibly , but not known by us. There were the 
nouveau riche party from New York, the tall, angular, 
large-limbed, ^^youngwoman and her fat mamma ; 
there were the well-groomed government clerk and 
his stylish young wife ; a French count, a German 
baron ; a physician (Dr. McNalty), and a beautiful 
dark-eyed young lady who always wore a camellia 
in her dusky hair, Miss — well, let her be "Miss 
Vernon," with her father. Lesser lights plenty — 
a large number in all. 

Then Mrs. Wise herself gathered pleasant men 
and women around her. In her little parlor we met 


Q2 My Day 

Dr. Yelverton Garnett, our devoted friend in all his 
after life — Mrs. Garnett, daughter of Henry A. Wise, 
and a charming young sister, Annie Wise. Our 
hostess was a widow, well born and good, who was 
educating, alone and unaided, five splendid boys, who 
lived to reward her by their own worth and success. 

We were made thoroughly comfortable, and I soon 
learned that the "man behind the gun," to whom it 
behooved me to be civil, was the head waiter, Patrick, 
tall, black, stern, and unyielding. No use in trying 
blandishments on Patrick ! If one were starved, 
having overstayed appointed hours, she must fast 
until the next meal or find refreshment elsewhere. 
I once complained to Mrs. Wise, — that I lost the 
sweetest hour in the late afternoon for my stroll on 
Pennsylvania Avenue ; and represented the perfect 
ease with which Patrick could keep my tea for me. 
She listened with sympathy to the oft-told tale. 

" Well, you know, my dear," she said kindly, 
" Patrick — now you know Patrick is so good ! 
There's nobody like Patrick ! He has some trouble, 
with all those strangers to serve. I know you would 
like to help Patrick ! Yes, to be sure, it would seem 
to be a simple thing to set aside a biscuit and bit of 
cold tongue for you, and keep the kettle hot on the 
hearth, — but you see Patrick, — well, he is so good, 
you'll not have the heart to trouble him ! And dear ! 
I think you will yourself choose to be indoors early 
here in Washington." 

The one who was "dear" was Mrs. Wise — the 
noblest and best of women. 

Very soon I found that with all these pieces upon 

My Day 93 

the board, a lively game might be expected. Miss 
Dick, whose brother was employed by the govern- 
ment, soon enlightened me : the rich New York 
girl wanted a title. She was " trying to catch " the 
baron, and would succeed, " as nobody else wanted 
either of them." Miss Vernon was dying for love 
of Dr. McNalty. She was going into a decline. 
Probably the doctor was ignorant of the state of 
things. Such a beautiful girl — a perfect lady ! 
Somebody ought to speak to the doctor. She, 
(Miss Dick) couldn't. Nobody would listen to an 
old maid — "perhaps you, Mrs. Pryor " — ("Oh, 
mercy, no") — well, then, poor girl! The French 
count was flirting with the wife of the government 
clerk. Her husband would find her out, never fear ! 
There was danger of a hostile meeting before the 
winter was over. Then that hateful old Dr. Todkin, 
with his straw-colored wig ! To be sure, she and 
some others liked the parlors kept dark — but what 
business had he to say he hoped some lady would 
come who " liked the light and could bear the light I " 
Such Dutch impertinence! 

I received these confidences of Miss Dick in my 
own rooms, for I soon learned, with Mrs. Baird and 
Mrs. Heth, that the public drawing-room was no 
place for me. 

" Gossip ! " said they. " It has gone beyond gossip ! 
The air is thick with something worse. You might 
cut it with a knife." 

But it was not long before we had a ripple in our 
own calm waters. On one side of me at our round 
table sat Mr. George, the eccentric, small, intense 

94 My Day 

Swiss naturalist, who amused me much by affecting 
to be a woman-hater. 

" Not that they concern me," he said, " but, — 
well, I find fishes more interesting. I understand 
them better." 

Beside my husband was placed our special pet, 
Maria Heth, taken under our wing in the absence 
of her parents, neither of whom ever appeared. 
The circle was completed by Professor and Mrs. 
Baird, little Lucy Baird, and Mr. Turner. In course 
of time my right-hand man fell into silence, broken 
by long-drawn sighs. I supposed he had lost a 
"specimen," or failed to find enough bones in some 
fish he was to classify, or maybe heard bad news 
from home, or belike had a toothache ; so, after a 
few essays on my part to encourage him, I let him 
alone. Presently his place at the board was vacant. 
Things went on in this way until one morning, early, 
Maria Heth knocked at my door. 

" I am troubled about Mr. George," she said. " I 
am sorry to worry you, but I'm afraid there's no 
help for it. Mamma is too nervous to hear unpleas- 
ant things, and I'm afraid of exciting papa." 

" Come to the point, Maria ! Mr. George, you 
say ! Well, then, what about Mr. George? " 

" Well, you know he's been missing nearly a 
week. It was no business of mine. I had no dream 
/ had anything to do with it. But see what he has 
written me ! ' This comes to you from a broken- 
hearted man. Forget him! You will meet him 
no more on earth. Perhaps — yonder ! George.' " 

Questioning Maria further, she confessed that on 

My Day 95 

the day Mr. George disappeared, she received from 
him a passionate love-letter. She had answered him 
curtly. Yes, — she certainly had told him what she 
thought of his impertinence. " Of course, I am dis- 
tressed, but what could I do," said the poor child. 
" You know my brother ! Richard would have been 
enraged. I had to settle him once for all to save 

I went immediately to Mrs. Baird with my infor- 
mation. She, too, had become anxious at the sudden 
disappearance of the young naturalist. He had not 
been seen at the Institution, and investigation re- 
vealed the fact that he had not occupied his rooms. 
Professor Baird was deeply concerned, and a vigor- 
ous search was made for the missing man. 

Upon returning from my walk that evening, I 
found a note on my table from Mrs. Baird. The 
runaway had been found. It would be unnecessary 
to drag the river or notify the police. He was dis- 
covered in the upper chamber of an humble lodging- 
house, very limp and penitent, but "clothed and in 
his right mind." He had not been drinking, he had 
not been in the river. I never knew what Professor 
Baird did to him — pulled him out of bed, very 
likely, and shook him into his senses. So we lost 
Mr. George (whose surname I dare not reveal), 
and he was doubtless mightily strengthened in his 
opinion of women — not to be understood by him 
and not, by any means, comparable to fishes. 

Perhaps I should not leave the dramatis persona 
of our boarding-house " in the air." Before I left 
Mrs. Wise, the baron was safely moored into har- 

96 My Day 

bor by the tall young lady from New York. The 
government clerk had openly insulted the French 
count, and it was supposed a challenge had passed 
between them. Evidently nothing had come of it. 
If they fought, it was a bloodless battle. The 
exquisite Miss Vernon had reappeared, thinner, 
paler, but radiant and beautiful exceedingly. Miss 
Dick was puzzled. Perhaps the girl had " gotten 
over it," like a sensible woman. Perhaps she had 
not been ill at all — only hysterical. It was not 
impossible she might have feigned illness " to bring 
him around." These were some of the solutions 
of the problem that occurred to Miss Dick. 

I could have enlightened her. One evening, Dr. 
McNalty, whom I knew but slightly, spoke to me 
in the hall. He had a soft white parcel in his hand 
and seemed embarrassed and agitated. He begged 
me to do him a great kindness — would I see Miss 
Vernon — not send a messenger, see her myself and 
give her some camellias from him. Possibly there 
might be some message from her. He would 
await my return. 

Would I ? I flew on the wings of hope and 
keen interest. I comprehended the situation. Of 
course there had been a misunderstanding. Pos- 
sibly his letters had been returned and unopened. 
Only a desperate necessity could have nerved him 
to appeal to me — almost a stranger. I rose to the 
occasion, and when I was admitted to Miss Vernon's 
room, I was prepared to be an eloquent advocate, 
should circumstances encourage and justify me. 

When I returned to Dr. McNalty, I bore a mes- 

My Day 97 

sage. She had laid the camellias against her lovely 
cheek and said, " Tell him his flowers are whisper- 
ing to me." 

I hope my reader will appreciate my reticence in 
ending this little story just here. If, as Talley- 
rand declared, " a man who suppresses a bon mot 
deserves canonization," is there no nimbus for the 
woman who, for truth's sake, suppresses the denoue- 
ment of a love story ? The temptation is great to 
amplify a little, embroider a little — but then I 
should have to reckon with my conscience, with the 
certainty of being worsted. 

As a matter of fact, I know only this of the young 
woman I am constrained to call Miss Vernon. Her 
true name was one well and honorably known in 
history. She was the most beautiful of all dark- 
eyed women I have ever known — of course the 
blue-eyed angels are exceptional — and her manners 
and attire were as elegant as her person. She wore 
rich velvet, then much in vogue, and only one 
jewel : — 

' ' On her fair breast a sparkling cross she wore 
Which Jews might kiss and infidels adore." 

I never knew the end of the romance in which I 
bore a small part. I never even knew of what 
whisperings camellias are capable. Had they been 
violets — or roses, or lilies of the valley — but big 
white camellias ! I only know she recovered and 
that Dr. McNalty thanked me warmly for my 
small service. That is all. 


R. FILLMORE was a fine type of the 
kind of man Americans love to raise to the 
highest office in their gift. He had not 
been a mill boy, nor lived in a log-cabin, nor split 
rails (which was to his discredit), but he had been an 
apprentice to a wool-carder in Livingston County, 
New York. Afterward he had worked in a law- 
yer's office all day and studied at night. He had 
had no patron. He was essentially a self-made 
man. When, by the death of President Taylor, he 
became President of the United States, he fitted 
into the place as if he had made himself expressly 
for it. 

According to Ampere, who observed us so nar- 
rowly in 1852, " M. Fillmore avait un cachet de 
simplicite digne et bienveillante, qui me semble 
faire de lui le type de ce que doit etre un president 

But nobody said any of those fine things about 
dear Mrs. Fillmore. The cachet de simplicite she 
certainly possessed, but she wore it with a difference. 
In a President it was admirable, in a beautiful 
woman it would have been adorable. It stamped 
plain, unhandsome, ungraceful Mrs. Fillmore as 
ordinary, commonplace. She was the soul of kind- 
ness. " She has no manner," said a woman of 
fashion. "She is absolutely simple. It is not good 

My Day 99 

form to be so motherly to her guests. Why, what 
do you think she said to me at the last levee ? 
( You look pale and ill, my dear ! Pray find a seat.' 
Think of that ! Haven't I aright to look pale and 
ill, I wonder ! " 

" She meant to be kind," I ventured. " Should 
she have permitted you to faint on the floor ? " 

" Kind, indeed ! It was her duty, if she thought 
me ' gone off in my looks,' to tell me how well I 
was looking ! I should have been all right after 
that. As it was, I came straight home and went to 

I fairly revelled in the music I could now hear. 
From a famous musician, Mr. Palmer, I took les- 
sons again. He was a notable character — a splendid 
musician, and a welcome guest at Mr. Corcoran's 
and other houses, where he amused the company 
with tricks of legerdemain. He afterward became 
the celebrated " Heller," the prince of legerdemain 
and clairvoyance. The elder Booth, Hackett, and 
Anna Cora Mowatt introduced me to the fascina- 
tions of the stage. Nothing to my mind had ever 
been, could ever be, finer than their Hamlet, Fal- 
staff, and Parthenia. The Armstrongs gave me 
carte blanche to their box at the theatre, and I saw 
everything. I wonder if any one at the present day 
remembers the Ravel brothers and their matchless 
pantomimes ! Mrs. Baird made a party, taking 
little Lucy to see "Jocko." Not a word was 
spoken in the play ; not an eye was dry in the 

One evening an agreeable Frenchman whom we 

ioo My Day 

knew joined us in our box, and seeking an oppor- 
tunity, whispered to me, " Madame, will you grant 
me a favor ? There — in the parquette, second from 
the front, voyes-vous ? A lady en chapeau bleu? " 

" Yes, yes, I see ! Who is she ? " 

" Madame " (tragically), " that demoiselle with 
the young man is fiancee to my friend!" 

"And you are perhaps jealous !" 

" Ah, mais non, Madame! I have this moment 
said to my friend, * Regardez votre fiancee.' He 
has responded, ' C est vrai ! It is custom of this 
country.' " 

" And what then ? " I asked. 

" Oh ! " shrugging his shoulders in scorn not to 
be expressed in words, " I say, ' Eh bien, Emil. If 
you satisfy, / very well satisfy ! ' But, pardon, 
Madame, is it convenable in this country for demoi- 
selle to appear at theatre with young gentleman 
without chaperon ? " 

I found refuge in ignorance : " I am sure I can- 
not say. You see I am from Virginia. I haven't 
been long in Washington, and customs here may 
differ from manners in my home." 

I was a proud woman when Mr. Pierce sent for 
my young editor to read with him his inaugural 
address. These were mighty political secrets, not to 
be shared with Miss Dick, and thus published to her 
little boarding-house world. I felt that I belonged, 
not to that nor to any other small world. I belonged 
to the nation ; and strange to say, that impression 
(or must I say delusion ?) never left me in my darkest, 
most obscure days. 

My Day 101 

Mr. Pierce liked my young editor. We adored 
him ! Only since we lost him have we learned of his 
many mistakes, vacillation, weakness, unpopularity ; 
nothing of these appeared in 1852. He had been a 
fine politician, had served his country " with bravery 
and credit," enlisting as a private in the Mexican War. 
" His integrity was above suspicion, and he was 
deeply religious." It is quite certain he did not 
desire the nomination. There was nobody in his 
family to exult over his promotion, no son, no 
daughter to blossom with new beauty because of the 
splendid stem on which she grew. Only a sick, 
broken-hearted wife, too feeble to endure the exactions 
of social life, too sad to take part in anything out- 
side her own room. She did not even attempt it. 
It was at once understood that our republican court 
was such only in name. In name only did Mrs. 
Pierce appear in its annals. I never saw her. I 
never saw any one who had seen her. We thought 
of her as a Mater Dolorosa, shrouded in deepest 
mourning, and we gave her a sacred place in our hearts. 

I cannot close my records of this, my earliest ex- 
perience of Washington life, without remembering 
with gratitude all I owe to the friendship and wisdom 
of the discreet, cultured women who felt an early 
interest in me, guiding and instructing me. Mrs. 
Spenser Baird, Mrs. Garnett («(?<? Wise), lovely Annie 
Wise, and Maria Heth, these were my intimate friends. 
Mrs. Garnett, a lovely Christian woman, watched me 
closely and restrained me in my natural desire for 
beautiful raiment. I once confessed to her, almost 
with tears, that Leonide Delarue had beguiled me 

102 My Day 

into giving forty dollars for a bonnet, whereupon she 
produced pencil and paper and proved that the material 
(exclusive of a bit of superfluous point-lace) could be 
obtained for ten dollars. The young English queen, 
it was said, could make her own bonnets. But I could 
not succeed as a milliner. I had some talent, but not 
in that line. However, that I might please and sur- 
prise Mrs. Garnett and also imitate the Queen, when 
the time came for me to indulge myself in a winter 
bonnet (we did not call them hats — they weren't 
hats !), I essayed the "creation" of one with velvet, 
satin, and feathers galore. It was a dreadful failure! 
I took it to Madame Delarue's and begged her to 
tell me what ailed it. 

" Mon Dieu ! " she exclaimed, throwing up her 
hands in despair, " pesante." 

I gave away my " creation " to somebody in my 
service — anybody who wouldcondescend to accept it. 
Mrs. Garnett felt I could hardly afford to try again. 
She knew, however, how important to me as a young 
politician's wife would be the virtue of economy. 
It is not written in the stars that an honest politician 
can ever be rich. A great evening reception was to 
be given by some magnate at which my young editor 
consented to be present. He secretly visited Harper's 
fine store and brought home a lovely " bertha " for 
me made of three rows of point-lace. I gasped ! But 
I was prudent. I accepted it with apparent pleasure, 
went to Harper's, found it had been charged, and 
effected its return. But here was a dilemma. I 
was to attend the reception. I was to wear evening 
dress and a beautiful " bertha." 

My Day 103 

"Have you not imitation lace?" I inquired. 

Harper had, — and the imitation was good, — the 
price of plenty of it ten dollars. I guiltily made the 
exchange, took a searching look at my model, and 
perfectly copied it. 

That evening, brave in my counterfeit presentment 
I stood under a blaze of light with my intimates, Mrs. 
Clay, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and others around me. My 
editor approached and was complimented upon my 
appearance. "Ah, but, " he said, in the pride of his 
young heart, "if I can only keep it up ! Why, Mrs. 
Clay, that bit of lace cost me hundreds of dollars ! " 
I caught the wondering eyes of my fully instructed 
friends, gave them an imploring glance — and when 
the boastful young fellow departed, told them my 
story. They said I was a very silly woman. 

Mr. Fillmore's tastes had been sufficiently ripened 
to enable him to gather around him men of literary 
taste and attainment. John P. Kennedy, a man of 
elegant accomplishments, was Secretary of the Navy. 
Washington Irving was often Mr. Kennedy's guest. 
We knew these men, and among them none was 
brighter, wittier, or more genial than G. P. R. James, 
the English novelist whose star rose and set before 
i860. He was the most prolific of writers, " Like 
an endless chain of buckets in a well," said one ; 
"as fast as one is emptied, up comes another." 

We were very fond of Mr. James. One day he 
dashed in, much excited : — 

" Have you seen the Intelligencer? By George, 
it's all true ! Six times has my hero, a ' solitary 

104 My Day 

horseman,' emerged from a wood ! My word ! 
I was totally unconscious of it ! Fancy it ! Six 
times ! Well, it's all up with that fellow. He has 
got to dismount and enter on foot — a beggar, or 
burglar, or pedler, or at best a mendicant friar." 

" But," suggested one," he might drive, mightn't 

" Impossible ! " said Mr. James. " Imagine a hero 
in a gig or a curricle ! " 

" Perhaps," said one, " the word e solitary ' has 
given offence. Americans dislike exclusiveness. 
They are sensitive, you see, and look out for 

He made himself very merry over it ; but the soli- 
tary horseman appeared no more in the few novels 
he was yet to write. 

One day, after a pleasant visit from Mr. James 
and his wife, I accompanied them at parting to the 
front door, and found some difficulty in turning the 
bolt. He offered to assist, but I said no — he was 
not supposed to understand the mystery of an 
American front door. 

Having occasion a few minutes afterward to open 
the door for another departing guest, there on his 
knees outside was Mr. James, who laughingly ex- 
plained that he had left his wife at the corner, and 
had come back to investigate that mystery. " Per- 
haps you will tell me," he added, and was much 
amused to learn that the American door opened of 
itself to an incoming guest, but positively refused, 
without coaxing, to let him out. "By George, that's 
fine !" he said, "that'll please the critics in my 

My Day 105 

next." I never knew whether it was admitted, for 
I must confess that, even with the stimulus of his 
presence, his books were dreary reading to my un- 
instructed taste. 

A very lovely and charming actress was promi- 
nent in Washington society at this time, — the 
daughter of an old New York family, Anna Cora 
(Ogden) Mowatt. She was especially interesting to 
Virginians, for she had captivated Foushee Ritchie, 
soon afterward my husband's partner on the editor- 
ship of the Richmond Enquirer. Mr. Ritchie, a con- 
firmed old bachelor, had been fascinated by Mrs. 
Mowatt's Parthenia (in "Ingomar" ), and was now 
engaged to her. He proudly brought to me a pair 
of velvet slippers she had embroidered for him, 
working around them as a border a quotation from 
" Ingomar " : — 

" Two souls with but a single thought, 
Two hearts that beat as one." 


1WAS peacefully enjoying a cup of tea with 
Mrs. Arnold Harris, when her father, old 
General Armstrong, entered, and brought me 
the astounding news that my husband had resigned 
his position as editor of the Washington Union. 

" Oh, that boy ! He thinks he knows more about 
foreign politics than I do." 

I was very fond of the General, who had always 
treated me in a fatherly and most kind manner. 
But of course I could not hear my husband dis- 
cussed, even by him, so I expressed polite regrets and 
hastened home. It was too true! The junior part- 
ner had published in the Union a very strong 
article, taking the part of Russia in the Crimean War, 
and General Armstrong had wished him to disavow 
it "upon further consideration." He had refused, 
and declared he must write according to his con- 
victions or not at all. The matter might possibly 
have been adjusted, had not the General, with more 
zeal than discretion, remonstrated with him upon the 
ground that he should " think twice before giving up 
a large salary." 

There is a very ugly word in the English language 
of which I, as a child, stood in mortal fear. I had 
then never read that word anywhere except in the 
Bible or my Catechism. I had never heard it ex- 
cept in the pulpit. I had an idea that the devil, in 


My Day 107 

whose personality I believed, but of whom I had 
never thought enough to be afraid, might appear at 
any moment in connection with that inviting word, 
if uttered out of church. 

Only lately has it been shorn of its terrors by 
being left out root and branch in the revision of the 
Bible. Now, although offensive to ears polite, it is 
no longer supposed to imperil the safety of the soul. 
Unless refined taste forbids, it may in seasons of 
peculiar vexation of spirit — a lacher la vapeur — be 
applied to things inanimate : to a " spot " that will 
not "out," to tiresome " iteration," to " faint praise," 
or, on general principles, suitably preface the pro- 
noun " it," but never to living individuals ! That 
would be uncivil to a degree — highly imprudent, 
and likely to result unpleasantly. There can be no 
doubt of the fact that it contains certain mysterious 
elements of relief and comfort, else why its frequent 
use by men and not infrequent use by some women? 

At the time of which I am writing it was to me still 
a desperate word of evil source and evil omen. Even 
now the cells of my brain respond with a shudder 
when I hear it. 

You can then imagine the shock I sustained when 
I learned my husband's reply to the good old Gen- 
eral's overture. 

"What did you say?" I had sternly demanded. 

"Well, if you will have it — I said, ' damn the 
money ! ' " 

We did not leave Washington immediately. My 
editor knew he could make good his position in re- 
gard to Russia in her quarrel with England, and 

108 My Day 

Mr. Gales offered him the columns of the National 
Intelligencer for that purpose. He wrote a long 
and able defence of Russia. Caleb Cushing met 
him afterward and congratulated him on an article 
which was, he said, " unanswered and unanswerable." 

He was fascinated with editorial life, immediately 
bought an interest in the Richmond Enquirer, and 
became co-editor with William F. Ritchie. We 
had inaugurated President Pierce, whose friend- 
ship promised much. I had made charming friends 
in Washington, — Mrs. Gales and Mrs. Seaton, 
Mrs. Crittenden, beautiful Adele Cutts (afterward 
Mrs. Douglas), Mrs. "Clem" Clay, and other 
charming wives of the representatives in Congress. 
But I was not sorry to leave the city. My dear 
Blue Mountains were awaiting me. For years I 
could never return to them without a swelling heart. 
I was going back for a long visit to my aunt and the 
baby girl I had lent her (to keep her own dear heart 
from breaking when I left her), and I had a splendid 
boy to show my friends in Charlottesville — the old 
people only — for all my confreres had married and 
taken wing. 

It was not long before Mr. Pierce sent my hus- 
band on a special mission to Greece. I could not 
accompany him. I could not travel with my babies 
— there were now three — nor could I leave them 
with my delicate aunt. I went with him as far as 
Washington, where we spent one day and night. A 
dinner had been arranged to witness the unfolding 
of a superb specimen of the Agave Americana, sup- 
posed to be over fifty years old, and which now, for 

My Day 109 

the first time in the memory of the present genera- 
tion, had suddenly thrown up a great stalk crowned 
with a bud nearly a foot long. 

We did not attend the dinner, but at midnight, 
upon answering a knock at the door, there stood a 
man bearing in his arms the splendid flower. A 
thick fringe of narrow, pure white petals formed a 
rosette, and from the centre rose a plume of golden 
stamens. I was resolved this midnight beauty 
should not discover the dawn which signals the closing 
of its petals, so I placed it in the ample fireplace, 
made a framework of canes, parasols, and umbrellas 
around it and covered the whole with a blanket. In 
the morning I peeped in. It presented a tightly 
twisted spike, having entered upon another long 
sleep of fifty years, more or less. It was this flower 
that my husband, with outrageous American boast- 
ing, described to Queen Mathilde of Greece as an 
ordinary floral production of this country, not to 
be confounded with the commonplace night-bloom- 
ing Cereus, and fired an ambition in her soul that 
could hardly have been gratified. 

While my husband was absent on his mission, 
President Pierce spent one day in Charlottesville to 
visit the tomb and home of Jefferson, the father of 
his political party. We were then at my aunt's 
country place, and the President wrote to me regret- 
ting he could not go out to see me, and inviting me 
to spend the one evening of his stay with him and 
a few friends at his hotel. 

I had a delightful evening. He expressed the 
warmest friendship for the young ambassador to 

no My Day 

Greece, and presented me with two beautiful books, 
bound sumptuously in green morocco and inscribed 
in his own fine handwriting, from my " friend Frank- 
lin Pierce." Those valued books were taken from 
me when our house was sacked in 1865. They 
possibly exist somewhere ! certainly in the grateful 
memory of their first owner. 

The President had the courtesy to express pleas- 
ure in my piano playing. I made him listen to 
Thalberg's "La Straniera,"Henselt's" Gondola," and 
" L'Elisir d' Amour " ; and I left him with an impres- 
sion that has never been lost, of his kindness of 
heart, his captivating voice and manner. 

My husband's letters from Greece and from 
Egypt were extremely interesting, and I preserved 
them for publication in book form. Alas ! they, 
too, were lost in 1865. Unable to encumber myself 
when I fled before the bullets in 1865, I sent my 
little son back under cover of night to draw the box 
containing them to some safe place away from 
the buildings and burn them. Thus I lost all 
records of our active life in Virginia before the eve 
of surrender, except those preserved in the files of 
Northern papers. 

Passage was taken in the Pacific for my husband's 
return, and I went down to Petersburg that I might 
be with his family to meet him. The Pacific was 
long overdue before we would acknowledge to each 
other that we were anxious, — I can hear now, as 
then, cries of the newsboys, " Here's the New 
York Herald^ and no news of the Pacific" — repeating 
like a knell of despair, as they ran down the streets, 

My Day in 

" No news of the Pacific ! No news of the Pacific ! " 
At last, when the strain was almost unbearable, my 
father, Dr. Pryor, ran home with the paper in his 
hand : " A printed list of the passengers, my 
dear ! Roger's name is not among them ! " 

It had pleased God to deliver him. He had 
taken passage on the Pacific and sent his baggage 
ahead of him. When he reached Marseilles, he 
found his trunks and packages had been opened, — 
a discourtesy to an ambassador, — and he remained 
a few days to obtain redress, allowing the Pacific to 
sail without him. That ill-starred steamer never 
reached home. The story of her fate is held where 
so many secrets, so many treasures lie — in the 
bosom of the great deep. 

I have told elsewhere something of my husband's 
residence at Athens. It suffices to state here that 
he accomplished the object of his mission to the 
satisfaction of his government, and to his own 
pleasure and profit. He brought me many beauti- 
ful pictures and carvings for the home we now made 
in Richmond, to say nothing of corals, amber, 
mosaics, curios, and antiques, silks, laces, velvets, 
perfumes, etc., to my great content. Soon after his 
return, the President offered him the mission to 
Persia, which he declined. We found a pleasant 
house in Richmond, with ample grounds on either 
side for the flowers I adored. There we set up 
our Lares and Penates — happy housekeepers, 
intent on hospitality. 

The great day arrived for our first large dinner- 
party. Although only men were present, they were 

ii2 My Day 

friends and neighbors, and I presided ; with my 
courtly uncle, Dr. Thomas Atkinson, at my right 
hand. We furnished our dinners from our own 
kitchens in Richmond. In every respect — so my 
uncle assured me — my first venture was a success. 
Soup, fish, roast, game, and salad with the perfec- 
tion of chill demanded by a self-respecting salad. 
Presently I saw one of the waiters whisper to the 
host, and an expression of alarm pass over his 
face. The bread had " given out " ! I had not 
imagined the enormous consumption of bread of 
which a wine-bibber could be capable. Passing 
around to the head of the table, the dire story was 
repeated to me, and it was well I had a physician at 
my right hand ! Utter collapse threatened his 
young hostess. As to the young host, he rose 
nobly to the occasion. " Ah ! no bread ! Then we 
must eat cake ! " Thenceforth at all our dinners a 
skeleton entered our closet — if an empty bread- 
tray might be dignified into a skeleton. At every 
dinner and supper we gave, my husband stood in 
mortal terror lest the bread should give out — as 
it really did in very truth not many years later. 

I was very fond of a little factotum of my cook, 
whom I promoted from the kitchen to my personal 
service. As no bell or knocker could reach the ear 
in the regions allotted the servants, George was in- 
vested in white linen, and with a primer for his en- 
tertainment and culture was stationed at the door 
during visiting hours. He found it difficult to 
keep awake. My French teacher would throw up 
his hands when he passed out, "Mon Dieu ! Comme 

My Day 113 

il dormeV If you have ever seen Valentine's bust 
of the Nation's Ward, you have seen George ; 
asleep, with his head on his bosom and his spelling- 
book on the floor. He was of a blackness not to be 
illustrated by the ace of spades, a crow's wing, or 
any other sable bird or object, and this circumstance, 
enhancing the purity of his white linen, made him 
an attractive and interesting object. George had 
no imagination. He was nothing if not literal. At 
one time ice was scarce in Richmond. The water 
of the James was a rich old-gold color from the mud 
of the red-clay regions through which some of its 
tributaries ran, but it was considered wholesome. 
We filtered it for drinking and for tea through a 
great Vesuvius stone. Some of the old residents 
were wont to declare they preferred it to the clear 
water of the springs, — several of which were in the 
parks of the city, — complaining that the spring 
water " lacked body." At the time of the ice 
famine we filled tubs with this cool, muddy water, 
and in it kept our bottles of milk. George once 
brought for my admiration some fine lettuce the 
cook had bought from a cart. 

" Put it in water ! " I ordered. Soon afterwards, 
he entered with several bottles of milk — which I 
also told him to " put in water." What was my 
dismay when the cook rushed to my room in great 
heat : — 

" I knowed that fool nigger would give you 
trouble ! " 

" Why, what's the poor child done ? " 

"Po' chile! Little devil, i" call him! He's 

ii4 My Day 

done po'ed out all the baby's milk in that yaller 
water, and seasoned it with lettuce leaves ! " 

We found the society of Richmond delightful. 
Southern society has often been described, its mem- 
bers praised or blamed, criticised or admired, ac- 
cording to the point of view ; sometimes commended 
as " stately but condescending, haughty but jovial," 
possessing high self-appreciation, not often indulg- 
ing in distasteful egotism ; fast friends, generous, 
hospitable ; considering conversation an art to be 
studied, and fitting themselves with just so much 
knowledge of literature, science, and art, as might be 
indispensable for conversation ; but withal " cul- 
tured, educated men of the world who would meet 
any visitor on his own favorite ground." 

Richmond society has always claimed a certain 
seclusiveness for itself — not delusiveness — for no- 
body properly introduced could visit Richmond 
without having a dinner or evening party given in 
his honor. "Taken in?" — of course the enter- 
tainers were sometimes "taken in"! That did 
not signify once in a while. 

I remember a portly dame with two showy 
daughters, always handsomely attired, who man- 
aged, at some watering-place, to find favor in the 
eyes of one of our citizens and obtained an invita- 
tion, which was eagerly accepted, to make him a 
visit. An evening party was given to introduce 
them. I had my doubts after a conversation with 
Madame Mere — and expressed them, to the disgust 
of one of my friends. " Impossible," she said, 
coolly. After they left, Mr. Price, our leading 

My Day 115 

merchant, presented a large bill for female fineries 
with which he had unhesitatingly credited Madame, 
who had departed with her daughters to parts un- 
known. It was promptly, and without a grimace, 
paid by their deluded host. I could remember the 
sweetly apologetic way in which Madame had told 
me she feared her " girls were a bit overdressed for 
the small functions in Richmond. In New York, 
now ! But here, of course, there need be no such 
display as in New York ! " 

No amusement, except an occasional song from 
an obliging guest, was provided for our evening 
parties. Conversation and a good supper, with the 
one-and-only Pizzini to the fore — this was induce- 
ment enough. Not quite as spirituelle as Lady 
Morgan, we required something more than a lump 
of sugar to clear the voice. And Pizzini's suppers ! 
His pyramids of glace oranges, " non pareil" and 
spun sugar; his ices, his wine jellies, his blanc 
manges and, ye gods ! his terrapin, pickled oysters, 
and chicken salad ! We assembled not much later 
than nine, and remained as long as it pleased us. 
Sometimes we acted — " The Honeymoon," or some 
other little play ; Anna Cora Mowatt (Mrs. Ritchie) 
gave charming tableaux, with recitations ; but usually 
we talked and talked and talked ! "Art of conver- 
sation ? " I suspect art has nothing to do with 
conversation. When it becomes art, it ceases to 
be conversation. We did not gossip, either. Per- 
sonalities were quite, quite out of the question. 
Our hosts knew to perfection the art of entertaining. 

Sometime in the fifties, Charles Astor Bristed 

n6 My Day 

wrote his book, entitled, " The Upper Ten Thou- 
sand of New York." It appears the world was 
waiting for some such work. The theme rippled 
from shore to shore, until within the past few years 
it seems to have expired with the myth of the Four 
Hundred. N. P. Willis (wasn't he a bit of a snob 
himself?) caught with avidity the new departure 
in Mr. Bristed's book, and eternally harped upon 
it. From 1852 until the war, and afterward, until 
the subsidence of the Four Hundred ripple, we 
have heard a great deal about classes, society ; 
and finally, American manners came to the fore as a 
subject of journalistic interest. " American man- 
ners ! Are they improving in grace or dignity ? " 
The question was put to a number of men and 
women whose experience and frankness could be 
relied upon. The answers, except for one, were 
vague and cautious. Nobody likes to appear as a 
satirist or cynic — and yet nobody is willing to ac- 
knowledge that he knows nothing better than what 
appears at present to be the standard of good breed- 
ing, by comparison with the standard twenty or 
more years ago. 

The one honest man revealed by the lamp-light 
of the inquiring editor remembered the chapter al- 
lotted to a contributor in the preparation of " a his- 
tory of Ireland." The subject of the chapter was 
dictated — "The Snakes of Ireland " — and it ap- 
peared with that heading. It was brief and to the 
point — "There are no Snakes in Ireland." 

" American manners ?" answered the one honest 
man ; " there aren't any." 

My Day 117 

" American manners," said George William Curtis, 
"where do you find them? If high society be the 
general intercourse of the highest intelligence with 
which we converse, — the festival of Wit and Beauty 
and Wisdom, — we do not find it at Newport. Fine 
society is a fruit that ripens slowly. We Americans 
fancy we can buy it." 

Foreigners have never ceased to comment upon 
American manners. The subject in the fifties 
seems to have been of inexhaustible interest. 
"There's no use," said Max O'Rell, "in forever 
gazing at the Upper Ten Thousand. They are 
alike all over the world. It is the million that 
differ and are interesting." Marion Crawford said : 
" The Upper Ten can never fraternize with artists, 
poets, and inventors. These take no account of 
wealth or of any position not won by absolute genius 
or merit, treating such position, indeed, with ill-con- 
cealed contempt." 

Thackeray liked to be agreeable to the people who 
made his lectures profitable, but he complains of the 
" uncommon splendatiousness " of Americans. " But 
I haven't been in Society yet," he wrote, in 1852; " I 
haven't met the Upper Ten." Another English 
writer went farther — much farther — but we forbear. 
Now these harsh judgments were exclusively of 
manners in New York, Newport, and Washington. 
No Curtis, Bristed, or Willis ever, to my knowledge, 
visited Richmond. Thackeray, Max O'Rell, and 
Ampere never thought us worth while — so our 
delightful small society, which had ripened slowly 
and took no account of wealth, and which could 

n8 My Day 

really have furnished a modicum of " Wit, beauty, 
and Wisdom" for Curtis's " festival," was unrepre- 
sented. As to the criticisms of our elder brother 
across the water, as long as he sends his sons to 
America to find the mothers of the future peers of 
his realm, the edge is blunted of his strictures upon 
American society and manners. 


WILLIAM WALKER, the "Grey-eyed 
Man of Destiny," who was in 1854 more 
talked about than any other man in the 
country, was our guest for several days in Richmond. 
Whether he came to accept a dinner given him by 
the city, or whether the dinner was the result of the 
visit, I cannot remember. Although we knew him 
to be an interesting character, we were unprepared 
for the throng that filled our house every day while 
he was with us. Beginning early in the day, they 
poured in until night, and remained, spellbound by 
the magnetism of this wonderful man. As we could 
not invite them to leave for the three o'clock dinner 
(the dinner-hour in Virginia varied then to suit indi- 
vidual convenience), I took counsel of my blessed old 
negro cook, and following her advice, I spread a table 
every day with cold dishes, — tongue, ham, chickens, 
birds, salads, etc., — to which all were made welcome. 
The sideboard ably supplemented this informal meal. 
Old Madeira could be had in those days, and in 
lieu of the cocktail of the present time, we brewed 
an appetizer, crowned with " the herb that grows on 
the grave of good Virginians." 

The Richmond market was insufficient for sud- 
den demands. We depended largely upon the 
small, covered country carts, intercepting them as 
they passed on their way to the grocers', who bartered 


i2o My Day 

things dry and liquid for the farmers' poultry, eggs, 
and butter. At this time of my distress, no carts 
hove in sight, but I knew a grocer with a noble soul, 
— one Mark Downey, — to whom I made a personal 
appeal, and he promised to send me, daily, every- 
thing he could gather, from a roasting pig to a 
reed-bird. My good cook rose to the occasion: 
"Ain't that Gin'al gone yet?" was her morning 
salutation, hastily adding, " Nem-mine, honey ! We- 
all kin git along." 

In some of the biographical sketches of William 
Walker I find him painted as little better — in fact, 
no better — than a pirate; a man of an unbounded 
stomach for power and place, regarding as nothing 
life, property, or his own word, and finally, justly for- 
saken and punished. Others present him to pos- 
terity as a scholar, an author, a graduate of colleges, 
a student at Heidelberg, also a hero of the first water, 
brave beyond compare ; a maker of republics, states- 
man, dictator, — in all things fearless and dashing. 
When I turn to the storehouse of my own memory, I 
find a modest, courtly gentleman, with a strong but 
not ungentle face : — 

" The mildest mannered man 
That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat." 

Of course I could not appear in the crowd that 
hung upon his lips all day, but when we gathered 
around the evening lamp he was never too weary to 
talk to me — but not about his conquests nor his 
ambitions. For a woman's ear he had gentler themes 
than these. 

William Walker. 

My Day 121 

One night I startled my husband by asking, 
" What church do you belong to, General ? " 

" I have recently become a Catholic," he answered 
gravely ; " it is the faith for a man like me ! I have 
seen the poor wounded fellows die with great serenity 
after the ministration of their priest." 

I recall a striking remark by the General to my 
husband. He said men are commonly equally cou- 
rageous, the difference between them being that one 
man, from keener sensibility, sees a danger of which 
another is stolidly insensible. The former is really 
courageous, while the latter is indifferent from lack 
of apprehension. Himself incapable of fear, a higher 
authority on the subject cannot be imagined. 

When he took leave of us, he gave me a perfect 
ambrotype picture of himself, probably the only gen- 
uine one extant. " Here I am, Madam, and I've 
always been called an ugly fellow." I ventured the 
usual deprecatory remark, but he shook his head : — 

"I'm afraid there's no doubt about it ! On my 
way here I heard a man close to my car-window sing 
out, c Whar's the Gray-eyed Man of Destiny ? ' As 
he was close to me, I leaned out and said in a low 
tone, c Here, my friend ! ' c Friend nothin,' he 
sneered ; ' an' you'd better take in your ugly mug.' " 

He looked back from the carriage that took him 
to the depot and answered my waving handker- 
chief: " Good-by, good-by, dear lady ! I'm going 
to make Nicaragua a nice place, fit for you ! " 

Just as we were about to engage in our own life- 
and-death struggle, we heard he had been betrayed, 
as Napoleon was betrayed, by the English, to whom, 

122 My Day 

after defeat, he had fled for protection, and had met 
his death bravely. 

His dream had been to win Nicaragua, as Houston 
had won Texas, and then annex it to the United 
States, thus strengthening the power of the South. 

I have been told that many superstitions and leg- 
ends have sprung up in Nicaragua and Honduras to 
cluster around the memory of William Walker, but 
in none is there a firmer belief than that his ghost 
appears on the anniversary of his death, and will so 
appear until he is avenged. A Tennessee boy, 
William G. Erwin, now helping to superintend the 
digging of the Panama Canal, has told the legend, 
in Senator Taylor's magazine, from which I select 
a few verses : — 

" One night each year in Honduras, they clear the roads for his 

Their long dead Gringo President — zvho rides with his phantom 

He sweeps o'er the land in silence and the cowering natives hide, 
From the Wraith of William Walker — who haunts the land 

where he died, 

" Thus it was the wild tale started — that when dying on the sand, 
Walker smiled and sternly told them, 'Till avenged I'll haunt 

your land ! ' 
And now on snow-white stallion once a year at midnight's spell, 
Across the land from sea to sea — rides the form that all know well. 

" His head is high, his blade is bare, his white steed spurns the 

A phantom troop charge close behind — but all make never a 

sound ; 
While his blood cries yet for vengeance against this murderous 

herd — 
He will ever come to warn them, that the day is but deferred. 

My Day 123 

"To the sons of old Honduras as they view him through the 
The Gray-eyed Man of Destiny looks the Avatar of Doom ; 
In his face they read a warning like the writing on the wall, 
'Tis, ' Beware, otie day the Gringos will avenge their chief- 
tain' 's fall 7' " 

My husband entered with great zeal and efficiency 
into the fight against " The Know-nothing party," 
or, as they proudly styled themselves, the "American 

The principles of this party were naturally evolved 
from the fact that the ignorant foreign vote was in- 
fluencing elections 1 in the cities, that votes were 
freely sold, and that drunken aliens frequently had 
charge of the polls. The mythical order of Wash- 
ington in a time of peculiar danger was remembered : 
" Put none but Americans on guard to-night ! " 

It seemed reasonable and fitting that Americans, 
who had won this country from the savage, and 
fought all its early battles with the French and Eng- 
lish, should govern the country they had redeemed. 
One thing led to another, until it was resolved to 
form a secret society, with the view of excluding all 
foreigners and many Roman Catholics from any part 
in the councils of the nation. 

This, briefly, seems to have been at the root of 
the great Know-nothing movement. The imme- 
diate and practical aim in view was that foreigners 
and Catholics should be excluded from all national, 
state, county, and municipal offices; that strenuous 
efforts should be made to change the naturalization 

1 History of James Ford Rhodes, passim. 

124 My Day 

laws, so that the immigrant could not become a 
citizen until a resident of twenty-one years in this 
country. My husband at once perceived the perni- 
cious tendency of the movement, which was sweeping 
the Northern states with resistless force. Secret 
lodges were formed everywhere, secret ceremonies 
inaugurated — grip, passwords, and signs. The 
country was in a ferment of excitement, followed by 
outrageous lawlessness. Bands of women made raids 
on bar-rooms and smashed the glasses, broke the 
casks, and poured the liquor into the streets. Our 
one exemplar of similar enterprises should have lived 
in those days ! Garrison burned the Constitution of 
the United States at an open-air meeting in Fram- 
ingham, Massachusetts ; and the crowd, in spite of a 
few hisses, shouted " Amen. " A mob broke into the 
enclosure around the Washington Monument, and 
broke the beautiful block of marble from the Temple 
of Concord at Rome, which had been sent by the 
pope as a tribute to Washington. A street preacher, 
styling himself the Angel Gabriel, incited a crowd at 
Chelsea, Massachusetts, to deeds of violence. They 
smashed the windows of the Catholic church, tore the 
cross from the gable and shivered it to atoms. These 
were only a few of the outrages growing out of the 
excitement engendered by the Know-nothing party. 
The Enquirer always claimed the credit of unearth- 
ing and exposing the signals, passwords, and cere- 
monies of the society. "I don't know" was one of 
the answers to the " grip" when brother met brother, 
and hence the popular name of the organization. 
Though Virginia had but few Catholics and few 

My Day 125 

immigrants, yet, upon principle, she withstood and 
stayed the Know-nothing torrent that had hitherto 
swept over every other state. 

Party feeling ran high during the election of a 
Virginia governor, and the junior editor of the En- 
quirer bore his part boldly and with vigor. For the 
first few years of his editorial life he devoted himself 
to study, confining himself closely to his office. A 
contemporary writer says of him : "Pryor evidently 
studied the highest standards in his reading, and his 
editorials were a revelation of strength and purity 
in classic English. It was impossible, however, for 
a man of his tastes and force not to drift into politics 
outside of the sanctum of his paper, and the public 
soon recognized him as one of the ablest and most 
eloquent speakers upon the hustings and in the bitter 
discussions that marked the proceedings of every 
gathering of the people in those years. In the 
mutterings and threatenings of the storm that was 
soon to break in fury upon a hitherto peaceful and 
peace-loving land, he found abundant opportunity 
for the cultivation and display of those rare powers 
of oratory in debate which subsequently forced him 
to the front of the forum." * I can only add to this 
tribute from a candid historian of the time one 
observation — the success was great : the memory of 
it sweet, but — it was bought with a price ! The stern 
price of unremitting labor and self-abnegation. 

It was a terrible time in Virginia. Henry A. Wise 
was the Anti-Know-nothing candidate for governor, 
and hard and valiant was the fight my husband made 

1 Claiborne's " Seventy Years in Virginia." 

126 My Day 

for his election. It involved him in two duels — not 
bloodless, but, thank God, not fatal. It is unneces- 
sary to allude to my own fearful anxiety. It will be 
understood by all women who, like myself, have been 
and are sufferers from the false standard demanded 
by the " code of honor, " in countries where, to 
ignore it, would mean ruin and disgrace. We were 
most devoted adherents of Mr. Wise, and ready to 
go to the death in his defence, standing as he did in 
the front, as we believed, of the battle for right, 
justice, and humanity. Finally, he was triumphantly 
elected, the pestilent society quenched, and com- 
parative peace for a brief period reigned in Virginia. 

The Democratic party was grateful for my 
husband's hard work, and gave him a beautiful 
service of silver, inscribed with the appreciation of 
the party for his "brilliant talents, eminent worth, and 
distinguished service." 

Not long afterward he became the editor of 
The Richmond Souths for which I had the honor to 
select a motto — " Unum et commune periclum una 
sa/us." Perhaps a pen picture of my " Harry Hot- 
spur," as he was called, may amuse those whose kind 
eyes follow his venerable figure as it passes to-day. 
" The day after our arrival at the Red Sweet Springs 
we noticed among a crowd of gentlemen a face which 
strikingly contrasted with the faces around him. He 
was a slight figure, with a set of features remarkable 
for their intellectual cast ; a profusion of dark hair 
falling from his brow in long, straight masses over the 
collar of his coat gave a student-like air to his whole 
appearance. We unconsciously rose to our feet on 

My Day 127 

hearing his name, and found ourselves in the actual 
presence of the far-famed editor of the South and in 
such close vicinity, too! Why, our awe increased 
almost to trepidation ; we felt as if locked in a vault 
full of inflammable gas, likely to explode with the first 
light introduced into it. Indeed, five minutes wore 
away in preliminary explanations before we could be 
brought to identify the youthful person before us — 
who might pass for a student of divinity or a young 
professor of moral philosophy — with the fiery and 
impetuous editor of the Richmond South. He is, 
we believe, considered one of the ablest political 
writers in all the South, and his articles were said to 
be highly influential in the late party controversy. 
For ourselves we regard with admiration," etc. " His 
young family cannot fail to create an immediate in- 
terest in the eyes of the most casual observer. . . . 
And then his beautiful, noble-looking children ; they 
might serve as models for infant Apollos, such as 
Thorwaldsen or Flaxman might have prayed for." 

They were lovely — my boys — my three little 
boys ! 


ABIT of paper, yellow and crumbling from 
age, has recently been sent to me by the son 
of an old Charlottesville friend. The tiny 
scrap has survived the vicissitudes of fifty-one years, 
and because of the changes it has seen and the dan- 
gers it has passed, if for nothing more, it deserves 
preservation. It marks an important era in our life, 
although it contains only this : — 

" Charlottesville, July i, 1858. 
" Dear Mrs. Cochran : — 

" May I have your receipt for brandy-peaches ? You 
know Roger is speaking all over the country, trying to win 
votes for a seat in Congress. I'm not sure he will be 
elected — but I am sure he will like some brandy-peaches ! 
If he is successful, they will enhance the glory of victory — 
if he is defeated, they will help to console him. 

" Affectionately, 

« S. A. Pryor." 

In this campaign my husband established his repu- 
tation as an orator. He was canvassing the dis- 
trict of his kinsman, John Randolph of Roanoke, and 
old men who heard his speeches did not hesitate to 
declare him the equal of the eccentric but eloquent 
Randolph. I always like to quote directly from the 
journals of the day, — I like my countrymen to tell 
my story, — and happily, although I lost all memo- 


My Day 129 

randa, some old men have written since the war of 
the noted Virginians whom they knew in the fifties. 
One from a North Carolina paper I have preserved, 
but lost the precise date. 

" The late Rev. Thos. G. Lowe, of Halifax, was 
the greatest natural orator North Carolina ever pro- 
duced. He was silver-tongued and golden-mouthed, 
a cross between Chrysostom and Fenelon. He was, 
besides, a very earnest Whig in his politics. On one 
occasion, in i860, we knew him to go from Halifax 
to Henderson, a distance of some sixty miles, to hear 
Pryor speak. We asked him what he thought of 
the Virginian. His reply was, ' You think I didn't 
stand up in a hot sun three mortal hours just to 
hear him abuse my party? He is wonderful, with 
the finest vocabulary I have ever known.' Charles 
Bruce, Esq., of Charlotte, Virginia, told us, in 1870, 
that when Pryor spoke at Charlotte Court House, he 
saw elderly gentlemen who had ridden forty miles in 
their carriages to hear him, and who said to each 
other, after the great orator had concluded his mas- 
terly effort, c We have had no such speaking in 
Virginia since John Randolph's day.'" 

Another from the old district writes, July 9, 
1891: — 

" Of all the men I ever heard speak, Pryor made the 
strongest impression on me. Young, enthusiastic, brilliant ; 
with a not unbecoming faith in a capacity of high order, he 
might reasonably have aspired to the loftiest dignities. He 
was a born orator; thorough master of those rare persuasive 
powers that captivate and lead multitudes. His figure was 
erect and finely proportioned, his gestures easy and graceful, 


130 My Day 

his features mobile and expressive of every shade of emotion. 
But the charm of his oratory lay in his wonderfully organ- 
ized vocal apparatus, which he played upon with the skill 
of a musical expert. No speaker of the present time can 
claim to rival him in the easy flow of rhetoric that sparkled 
through his harmoniously balanced periods, except, probably, 
Senator Daniel. While listening to him, the Richard Henry 
Lee of Wirt's graphic portraiture seemed to move and 
speak in every tone and gesture." 

Another for the Richmond Times-Democrat of No- 
vember 2, 1902, writes : — 

" A famous orator of the antebellum period was Roger 
A. Pryor, who still survives. He had a poetic imagina- 
tion, which is the basis of all true oratory. His vocabu- 
lary, though florid, was superb, and kept company with 
the airy creatures of his exuberant imagination. He rarely 
spoke but to evolve a beautiful figure, and in his political 
campaigns for Congress, in the now Fourth Virginia dis- 
trict, he frequently soared above the comprehension of his 
audience, whose reading was limited. He combined a 
logical mind with his poetic fancy, and the effect and prod- 
uct of his thought were striking and impressive, illustrat- 
ing the aphorism that the poet always sees most deeply into 
human nature. Pryor had the face, the figure, the dra- 
matic air, the attitude, and the vocabulary. When we saw 
him last summer at the White Sulphur, he looked the grave 
and dignified jurist, in contrast with the typical politician 
and editor of the fire-eating school of fifty years ago." 

While all these fine speeches were delighting our 
Democratic friends, I was very happy with my dear 
aunt at her country place, Rock Hill, near Char- 
lottesville. There my dear son Roger was born — 

My Day 131 

now my only son. The house, like a small Swiss 
chalet, was perched lightly on the side of an eleva- 
tion that well deserved its name. From the crest 
of the hill there was a noble view of the Blue Moun- 
tains, and of sunsets indescribable. To the little 
boy and girl who spent their childhood at this place 
it soon became enchanted ground. A quarry, from 
which stone had been taken for building the house, 
was the cave of Bunyan's giants, Pope and Pagan, 
who " hailed the Christians as they passed, saying, 
' Turn in hither ' " ; two crayfish that lived in the 
great spring under the Druidical oaks were the 
genii of the fountain ; the corn-field was a mighty 
forest to be entered with fear because of the Indians 
and wild beasts therein. 

These two children, Gordon and her brother, 
Theodorick, fourteen months younger, were blessed 
in having my own dear aunt's care and teaching 
from their infancy until they were aged respectively 
nine and ten years. They were not at first "re- 
markable " children. They were not infant phenom- 
ena, subjected to the perilous applause of admiring 
friends and kindred. They were normal in every 
respect — clean-blooded, sturdy, and wholesome; 
with good appetites, cool heads, and quick percep- 
tions. They became, under the care of their wise 
preceptor, unusually interesting and intelligent chil- 
dren. My aunt adored the children, firmly be- 
lieving that, however degeneracy might have impaired 
the human race in its progress of evolution, — these 
two at least had been made in God's image. In the 
words -of their nurse, she "tuned them as if they 

132 My Day 

were little harps — just to see how sweet the music 
could be ! " They studied together — Gordon under- 
standing that she must encourage the little brother, 
and read to him until he could read himself. In 
summer the schoolroom was sometimes al fresco, 
even drawing upon the knotted branches of the 
cherry tree for desks ! 

Gordon read very well at the age of three. She 
was also taught, before she could read, to point out 
rivers and cities on a map. Before he was four, 
Theodorick could read also. The children never 
had a distasteful task. I heard a great scholar say 
that all learning could be made charming to a young 
mind. The aunt of these children made their les- 
sons a reward. " Now be good when you dress, 
and you may have a lesson," or "if Gordon and 
Theo don't ask for anything, I will give them a 
lesson right after dinner." The lessons, through 
the teacher's skill and patience, were made delightful. 
At once they were given paper and pencils, colored 
and plain, and both wrote before they were five. 
Their teacher disapproved of gory tales of giants 
and hobgoblins. Instead of these, they had his- 
tories quite as thrilling, and stories of the animal 
kingdom, with which they lived in perfect amity and 
kinship. They never had caged birds, but ducks 
and chickens, dogs small and great, cats and kittens, 
were all regarded as part of the family, and bore 
historic names. Theo once picked up (he was 
three) a small chicken, whereupon the mother hen 
rose to his shoulders and administered a good 
spanking with her wings. A servant, with - great 

My Day 133 

heat, belabored the hen ; andTheo checked his sobs 
to entreat for her, explaining, "she didn't like for me 
to love her little white chicken." The hen, for- 
sooth, was jealous ! He once caught a bee in his 
hand and received a stinging rebuke. " How could 
you be so silly?" exclaimed his little sister. "Not 
at all," said Theo; " I have often done the same 
thing — but this little fellow," he added affection- 
ately, "this little fellow had a brier in his tail!" 
Their aunt hesitated whether she should tell them 
harrowing stories from history, but experiment 
proved, however, that the heroic held for them such 
fascination that they lost sight completely of the pain 
or suffering attending it. They adored the men and 
women who died bravely, but had their favorites. 
Lady Jane Grey was not one, nor Mary Queen of 
Scots (perhaps because of their ruffs), but they wor- 
shipped Marie Antoinette and Charles I. They 
had a very high regard for honor and fair dealing. 
Theo was a little over three years when he com- 
plained to me of his little sister, " I just laid my 
head on the stool and let her chop it off — because 
I am Charles I — and now she is Marie Antoinette, 
and when I am ready to cut off her head, she 
screams and runs away." His sense of justice was 
outraged, but the little sister's vivid imagination 
made her nervous, notwithstanding the fact that a 
cushion was the guillotine ! Having observed that 
a large knotted stick was treated with respect, and 
travelled, to my inconvenience, with Theo on sev- 
eral journeys, I essayed to throw it away. With 
great dignity he gravely informed me, " This is 

134 My Day 

Rameses III." Not only was it one of the Egyp- 
tian kings, but the richest of them all. I wish I 
could follow these two fascinating children beyond 
their babyhood, but I cannot venture ! I dare not ! 

Late in the autumn I left Rock Hill to visit my 
uncle at the Oaks in Charlotte. I had travelled 
alone from Richmond to Mossingford, ten or twelve 
miles from my uncle's house, and there old Uncle 
Peter met me with the great high-swung chariot and 
a hamper well filled with broiled partridges, biscuits, 
cakes, and fruit. The rain had poured a steady 
flood for several days, but to my joy the clouds were 
now rolling away in heavy masses, and the sun shin- 
ing hotly on the water-soaked earth. 

"We got to hurry, Mistis," said the old coachman, 
as we prepared to enjoy an al fresco luncheon ; 
" the cricks was risin' mighty fas' when I come 
along fo' sun-up dis mornin'." 

"But we don't have to cross the river, Uncle 

"Gawd A'mighty, no," exclaimed the old man. 
" Ef'n I had to cross Staunton River, I'd done give 
clean up, fo' I see you! When we git home, we'll 
fine out what ole Staunton River doin'. I lay she's 
jes' a'bilin' !" 

"Well, then there is some danger?" 

"Who talkin' 'bout danger? De kerridge sets 
mighty high. No'm, der ain't no danger, but I ain't 
trustin' dem cricks. I knows cricks ! Dee kin 
swell deeself up as big's a river in no time!" 

We had not gone far before we were overtaken by 
a mud-splashed horseman, who arrested our horses 

My Day 135 

and spoke in a low tone to the driver. Presently he 
appeared at the carriage window. "This is Mrs. 
Pryor? You remember Mr. Carrington ? I hope 
I see you well, Madam. I am on my way to vote 
for your husband — or rather, help elect him. We 
have a fine day; the polls need not be kept open 
to-morrow. But I must hasten on. We will soon 
have the pleasure of congratulating our congress- 

" One moment, please, Mr. Carrington! Are the 
creeks too high for us to cross ? " 

" I think not, Madam. The carriage hangs high, 
and Peter knows all about freshets. Good morning." 

There were swollen streams for us to cross. 
Several of them had overflowed the meadows until 
they looked like lakes. At one or two the water 
flowed over the floor of the carriage, and we gathered 
our feet under us on the seats. My little Theo 
enjoyed it, but my poor nurse was ashen from terror. 
Very wet, very cold, and very grateful were we when 
at night we reached our haven. My dear uncle, 
Dr. Rice, was already there, with cheering news from 
the polls. 

The next morning we looked out upon a turbid 
yellow sea. The Staunton had sustained her repu- 
tation, overflowed her low banks, and spread herself 
generously over the face of the earth. It was a week 
or more before my husband was assured of his 
election. He spent the intervening days of rest 
sleeping — like the boy he was! 

Several years later, when he was reelected, we 
were in Richmond with my little family. Gordon 

136 My Day 

and the two little boys were keen politicians. Of 
course I was now too busy a mother to concern 
myself with politics, as was my wont in the earlier 
days. Moreover, I knew my congressman would 
be reelected. I was pretty sure by this time that 
he would always be elected — so the day passed 
serenely with me. I was overwhelmed with dismay 
when one of his friends called after the polls closed 
at sunset, and informed me that a torch-light pro- 
cession would reach our house about eight o'clock, 
and would expect to find it illuminated. 

"Illuminated!" I exclaimed. "And pray with 
what? There are not half a dozen candles in the 
house, and the stores are all closed. Besides, the 
baby will be asleep. It is bad for babies to be waked 
out of their first sleep." 

My friend did not contradict me, but in the even- 
ing he sent a bushel of small turnips and a box of 
candles, with a note telling me to cut a hole in the 
turnips, insert a candle, and they would answer my 
purpose admirably. Everybody went to work with 
a will, and when the crowd, shouting and cheering, 
surrounded us, every window-pane blazed a welcome 
into the happy faces. My young congressman 
made one of his charming speeches, and then — the 
lights went out on the last election he was destined 
to celebrate ! True, he was twice after elected to 
Congress — in the Confederate States ; for the South 
had need of him in her legislative hall as well as in 
the field. In both he gave her all his heart and soul 
and strength, but the days were too sad for illumi- 
nations in his honor. 

My Day 137 

My story has now reached the period at which my 
" Reminiscences of Peace and War " begin. I shall 
not relate the political history of the period — which 
has been better told by others than I can hope to tell 
it. I shall endeavor to bring forward some things that 
were omitted in my late book, but in narrating the in- 
cidents of the Civil War and the preceding life in 
Washington, I may in some measure repeat myself. 
For this I have a valid excuse. Apologizing for 
quoting himself from a former book on Edmund 
Burke, John Morley remarks : " Though you may 
say what you have to say well once, you cannot so 
say it twice." Lord Morley strengthens his posi- 
tion by a quotation in Greek, which, unhappily, re- 
mains Greek to me, and I therefore cannot avail my- 
self of its help, but I am glad to be sustained by his 
example. Besides, what says Oliver Wendell 
Holmes ? " It is the height of conceit for an author 
to be afraid of repeating himself — because it implies 
that everybody has read — and remembers — what 
he has said before." 


WASHINGTON was like, a great village in 
the days of President Pierce and President 
Buchanan. My own pride in the federal city 
was such that my heart would swell within me at every 
glimpse of the Capitol : from the moment it rose like a 
white cloud above the smoke and mists, as I stood on 
the deck of the steamboat (having run up from my din- 
ner to salute Mount Vernon), to the time when I was 
wont to watch from my window for the sunset, that I 
might catch the moment when a point on the un- 
finished dome glowed like a great blazing star after 
the sun had really gone down. No matter whether 
suns rose or set, there was the star of our country, 
— the star of our hearts and hopes. 

When our friends came up from Virginia to make 
us visits, it was delightful to take a carriage and give 
up days to sight-seeing ; to visit the White House 
and Capitol, the Patent Office, with its miscellaneous 
treasures ; to point with pride to the rich gifts from 
crowned heads which our adored first President was 
too conscientious to accept ; to walk among the 
stones lying around the base of the unfinished monu- 
ment and read the inscriptions from the states pre- 
senting them ; to spend a day at the Smithsonian 
Institution, and to introduce our friends to its presi- 
dent, Mr. Henry ; and to Mr. Spenser Baird and 
Mr. George, who were giving their lives to the study 


My Day 139 

of birds, beasts, and fishes, — finding them, as Mr. 
George still contended, " so much more interesting 
than men," adding hastily, " We do not say ladies," 
and blushing after the manner of cloistered scholars ; 
to hint of interesting things about Mr. George, who 
was a melancholy young man, and who had, as we 
know, sustained a great sorrow. 

Then the visits to the galleries of the House and 
Senate Chamber, and the honor of pointing out the 
great men to our friends from rural districts ; the 
long listening to interminable speeches, not clearly 
understood, but heard with a reverent conviction 
that all was coming out right in the end, that every- 
body was really working for the good of his coun- 
try, and that we belonged to it all and were parts of 
it all. 

This was the thought behind all other thoughts 
which glorified everything around us, enhanced 
every fortunate circumstance, and caused us to 
ignore the real discomforts of life in Washington : 
the cold, the ice-laden streets in winter ; the whirl- 
winds of dust and driving rains of spring ; the 
swift-coming fierceness of summer heat ; the rapid 
atmospheric changes which would give us all these 
extremes in one week, or even one day, until it 
became the part of prudence never to sally forth 
on any expedition without " a fan, an overcoat, and 
an umbrella." 

The social life in Washington was almost as vari- 
able as the climate. At the end of every four years 
the kaleidoscope turned, and lo ! — a new central 
jewel and new colors and combinations in the setting. 

140 My Day 

But behind this " floating population," as the 
political circles were termed, there was a fine so- 
ciety in the fifties of " old residents " who held 
themselves apart from the motley crowd of office- 
seekers. This society was sufficient to itself, never 
seeking the new, while accepting it occasionally with 
discretion, reservations, and much discriminating 
care. The sisters, Mrs. Gales and Mrs. Seaton, 
wives of the editors of the National Intelligencer, 
led this society. Mrs. Gales's home was outside the 
city, and thence every day Mr. Gales was driven in 
his barouche to his office. His paper was the ex- 
ponent of the Old Line Whigs (the Republican 
party was formed later), and in stern opposition to 
the Democrats. It was, therefore, a special and 
unexpected honor for a Democrat to be permitted 
to drive out to " the cottage " for a glass of wine 
and a bit of fruit-cake with Mrs. Gales and Mrs. 
Seaton. Never have I seen these gentlewomen ex- 
celled in genial hospitality. Mrs. Gales was a hand- 
some woman and a fine conversationalist. She had 
the courteous repose born of dignity and intelli- 
gence and a certain reticence which makes for dis- 
tinction. She was literally her husband's right 
hand, — he had lost his own, — and was the only 
person who could decipher his left-hand writing. 
So that when anything appeared from his pen it 
had been copied by his wife before it reached the 
type-setter. A fine education this for an intelligent 
woman ; the very best schooling for a social life 
including diplomats from foreign countries, politi- 
cians of diverse opinions, artists, authors, musicians, 

My Day 141 

women of fashion, to entertain whom required infi- 
nite tact, cleverness, and an intimate acquaintance 
with the absorbing questions of the day. 

Of course the levees and state receptions, which 
were accessible to all, required none of these things. 
The role of hostess on state occasions could be 
filled creditably by any woman of ordinary physical 
strength, patience, self-control, who knew when to 
be silent. 

Washington society, at the time of which I write, 
was comparatively free from non-official men of 
wealth from other cities who, weary with the monot- 
onous round of travel, — to the Riviera, to Egypt, 
to Monte Carlo, — are attracted by the unique at- 
mosphere of a city holding many foreigners, and 
devoted not to commercial but to social and politi- 
cal interests. The doors of the White House and 
Cabinet offices being open on occasions to all, they 
have opportunities denied them in their own homes. 
Society in Washington in the fifties was peculiarly 
interesting in that it was composed exclusively of 
men whose presence argued them to have been of 
importance at home. They had been elected by 
the people, or chosen by the President, or selected 
among the very best in foreign countries, or they 
belonged to the United States Army or Navy ser- 
vice, or to the descendants of the select society 
which had gathered in the city early in its history. 1 

As I had come to Washington from Virginia, 
where everybody's great-grandfather knew my 
great-grandfather, where the rules of etiquette were 

1 " Reminiscences of Peace and War," passim. 

142 My Day 

only those of courtesy and good breeding, I had 
many a troubled moment in my early Washington 
life, lest I should transgress some law of prece- 
dence, etc. I wisely took counsel with one of my 
" old residents," and she gave me a few simple 
rules whereby the young chaperon of a very young 
girl might be guided : " My dear," said this lady, 
" my dear, you know you cannot always have your 
husband to attend you. It will be altogether 
proper for you to go with your sister to morning 
and afternoon receptions. When you arrive, send 
for the host or the master of ceremonies, and he 
will take you in and present you. Of course, your 
husband will take you to balls ; if he is busy, you 
simply cannot go ! I think you would do well to 
make a rule never^ under any circumstances, to 
drive in men's carriages. There are so many 
foreigners here, you must be careful. They never 
bring their own court manners to Washington. 
They take their cue from the people they meet. 
If you are high and haughty, they will be high and 
haughty. If you are genially civil but reserved, 
they will be so. If you talk personalities in a free 
and easy way, they will spring some audacious piece 
of scandal on you, and the Lord only knows where 
they'll end." 

Now, it so happened that I had just received a 
request from a Frenchman who had brought letters 
to be allowed to escort Madame and Mademoiselle 
to a fete in Georgetown. We were to drive through 
the avenue of blossoming crab-apples, and rendez- 
vous at a spring for a picnic. I forget the name of 

My Day 143 

our hostess, but she had arranged a gay festival, in- 
cluding music and dancing on the green. I had 
accepted this invitation and the escort of M. Raoul, 
and received a note from him asking at what hour 
he should have the honor, etc., and I immediately 
ran home and wrote that "Madame would be happy 
to see M. Raoul a trois heures" — and that Madame 
asked the privilege of using her own horses, etc. I 
made haste to engage an open carriage, and con- 
gratulated myself on my clever management. 

The afternoon was delicious. Monsieur appeared 
on the moment, and we waited for my carriage. The 
gay equipages of other members of the party drove 
up and waited for us. Presently, rattling down the 
street, came an old ramshackle " night-hawk," bear- 
ing the mud-and-dust scars of many journeys, the 
seats ragged and tarnished, raw-boned horses with 
rat-eaten manes and tails, harness tied with rope, — 
the only redeeming feature the old negro on the box, 
who, despite his humiliating entourage, had the air of 
a gentleman. 

What could I do ? There was nothing to be 

Monsieur handed me in without moving a muscle 
of his face, handed in my sister, entered himself, and 
spoke no word during the drive. He conducted us 
gravely to the place of rendezvous, silently and 
gravely walked around the grounds with us, silently 
and gravely brought us home again. 

I grew hot and cold by turns, and almost shed 
tears of mortification. I made no apology — what 
could I say ? Arriving at my own door, I turned 

144 My Day 

and invited my escort to enter. He raised his hat, 
and with an air of the deepest dejection, dashed with 
something very like sarcastic humility, said he trusted 
Madame had enjoyed the afternoon, — thanked her 
for the honor done himself, — and only regretted 
the disappointment of the French Minister, the Count 
de Sartiges, at not having been allowed to serve 
Madame with his own state coach, which had been 
placed at his disposal for Madame's pleasure ! 

As he turned away, my chagrin was such I came 
very near forgetting to give my coachman his little 
" tip. 

I began, " Oh, Uncle, how could you ? " when he 
interrupted : " Now Mistis, don't you say nothin' ; 
I knowed dis ole fune'al hack warn't fittin' for you, 
but der warn't nar another kerridge in de stable. De 
boss say, ' Go 'long, Jerry, an' git er dar ! ' — an' I 
done done it ! An' I done fotch 'er back, too ! " 

I never saw M. Raoul afterward. There's no use 
crying over spilt milk, or broken eggs, or French 
monsieurs, or even French counts and ministers. I 
soon left for Virginia, and to be relieved of the dread 
of meeting M. Raoul softened my regret at leaving 

I am sorry I cannot, at length, describe the brill- 
iant society of Washington during the few years 
preceding the Civil War. I have done this else- 
where, and need not repeat it here. But for the 
anxieties engendered by the exciting questions of the 
day, my own happiness would have been complete. 
I found and made many friends. My husband was 
appreciated, my children healthy and good, my home 

My Day 145 

delightful. Many of the brilliant men and women 
assembled in Washington were known to me more or 
less intimately, and everybody was kind to me. 
President Buchanan early noticed and invited me. 
" The President," said Mr. Dudley Mann, " admires 
your husband and wonders why you were not at the 
levee. He has asked me to see that you come to 
the next one." I once ventured to send him a 
Virginia ham, with directions for cooking it. It was 
to be soaked overnight, gently boiled three or four 
hours, suffered to get cold in its own juices, and then 
toasted. This would seem simple enough, but the 
executive cook disdained it, perhaps for the reason 
that it was so simple. The dish, a shapeless, jelly- 
like mass, was placed before the President. He 
took his knife and fork in hand to honor the dish 
by carving it himself, looked at it helplessly, and 
called out, " Take it away ! Take it away ! Oh, 
Miss Harriet ! You are a poor housekeeper ! Not 
even a Virginia lady can teach you." 

The glass dishes of the epergne contained wonder- 
ful " French kisses" — two-inch squares of crystal- 
lized sugar wrapped in silver paper, and elaborately 
decorated with lace and artificial flowers. I was 
very proud at one dinner when the President said to 
me, " Madam, I am sending you a souvenir for your 
little daughter," and a waiter handed me one of those 
gorgeous affairs. He had questioned me about my 
boys, and I had told him of my daughter Gordon, 
eight years old, who lived with her grandmother. 
"You must bring her to see Miss Harriet," he had 
said — which, in due season, I did; an event, with 


146 My Day 

its crowning glory of a checked silk dress, white hat 
and feather, which she proudly remembers to this 
day. Having been duly presented at court, the little 
lady was much " in society," and accompanied me to 
many brilliant afternoon functions. 

She was a thoughtful listener to the talk in her 
father's library, and once, when an old politician spoke 
sadly of a possible rupture of the United States, 
surprised and delighted him by slipping her hand 
in his and saying, " Never mind ! United will spell 
Untied ]ust as well" — a little mot which was remem- 
bered and repeated long afterward. 

An interesting time was the arrival in Washington 
of the first Japanese Embassy that visited this coun- 
try. All Washington was crazy over the event. I 
have told elsewhere of my own childish behavior 
upon that occasion — when, not having much of a 
head to speak of, I lost the little I had. Having 
already cared for the health of my soul by honest 
confession, I need not repeat it here. I was nervous 
lest the Japanese dignitaries should recognize me as 
the effusive lady who had met them en route, but I 
carefully avoided wearing in their presence the bon- 
net and gown they had seen, and if they remembered 
they gave no sign. 

Washington lost its head ! There was something 
ridiculous in the way it behaved. So many fetes 
were given to the Japanese, so many dinners, so 
many receptions, we were worn out attending them. 
"I don't know what we have come here for," said 
one senator to another ; " there's nothing whatever 
done at the House." "/ know," his friend 

My Day 147 

replied ; " we came here to wait on the Japanese 
at table." 

At the end of one of the balls given them I had 
seated myself at the door of an anteroom, while my 
husband was struggling for his carriage in the street. 
Across the room Miss Lane, with her party, also 
waited. A young man whom I had seen in society, 
but whose name I had not heard, approached me, and 
commenced a harangue of tender sympathy for my 
neglected position, — so young, so fair, so innocent! 
Oh, where, where was the miscreant who should pro- 
tect me ? Why, why could I not have been given 
to one who could have appreciated me — whose life 
and soul would have been mine, and more in the 
same strain. I did not, in accordance with stage 
proprieties, exclaim, " Unhand me, villain ! " At 
first I affected not to hear, but finally rose, crossed 
the room, and joined Miss Lane. She had not 
heard, and I did not deem the incident, although 
novel and most annoying, important enough for in- 
quiry. I did not know him, there was no need for 
investigation — no call for pistols and coffee. 

A few days after I saw him again at the Baron de 
Limbourg's garden-party. I had joined with Lord 
Lyons and the Prince de Joinville in the toast to 
Miss Lane, pledged in the famous thousand-dollar- 
a-drop " Rose " wine, and was again in the foyer 
waiting for my carriage when my would-be champion 
again approached me. " Mrs. Pryor," he said in calm, 

measured tones, " I am Lieutenant . I feel 

perfectly sure you will grant my request. Take my 
arm and go with me to speak to Miss Lane." 

i 4 8 My Day 

I instantly divined his intention. "Walking up to 
Miss Harriet, he said penitently: "Miss Lane, you 
witnessed my intrusion upon Mrs. Pryor the other 
evening and her exquisite forbearance. In your 
presence I humbly beg her pardon." He had, poor 
fellow, found General Cass's wines too potent for him. 
He had "lost his head" — that was all. I knew 
somebody whose head had been by no means a sure fix- 
ture without the excuse of General Cass's fine wines. 
Dear Miss Lane, so thoroughly equipped for her 
high position by her residence at the court of St. 
James, had only kindness then and ever for the wife 
of the young Virginia congressman. Years afterward, 
when both our heads were gray, we talked together 
of these amusing little events in our Washington life. 

Memory lingers upon the delightful friends who 
made my Washington life beautiful : Miss Lane, 
Mrs. Douglas, Lady Napier, Mrs. Horace Clarke 
{nee Vanderbilt), lovely Mrs. Cyrus H. M'Cormick, 
Mrs. Yulee, the Ritchies, the Masons, Secretary 
Cass's family, Mrs. Canfield, Mrs. Ledyard, and my 
prime favorite, Lizzie Ledyard. Ah ! they were 
charming and kind ! Even after social lines were 
strictly drawn between North and South, I had the 
good fortune to retain my Northern friends. All 
this I love to remember and would enjoy writing all 
over again, were it possible twice to give time to 
social records. Nor can I pause to do more than 
hint at the spirit of the Thirty-sixth Congress, the 
struggles, vituperation, intemperate speech, honest 
efforts of the wise members. 

The nomination of Lincoln and Hamlin on a 

My Day 149 

purely sectional platform aroused such excitement 
all over the land that the Senate and House of 
Representatives gave themselves entirely to speeches 
on the state of the country. Read at this late day, 
many of them appear to be the high utterances of 
patriots, pleading with each other for forbearance. 
Others exhausted the vocabulary of coarse vitupera- 
tion. " Nigger thief," " slave-driver " were not un- 
common words. Others still, although less unrefined, 
were not less abusive. Newspapers no longer re- 
ported a speech as calm, convincing, logical, or elo- 
quent — these were tame expressions. The terms 
now in use were : " a torrent of scathing denunciation," 
"withering sarcasm," "crushing invective," the ora- 
tor's eyes the while " blazing with scorn and indig- 
nation." Young members ignored the salutation 
of old senators. Mr. Seward's smile after such a 
rebuff was maddening ! No opportunity for scorn- 
ful allusion was lost. My husband was probably 
the first congressman to wear " the gray," a suit of 
domestic cloth having been presented to him by his 
constituents. Immediately a Northern member said, 
in an address on the state of the country, " Virginia, 
instead of clothing herself in sheep's wool, had bet- 
ter don her appropriate garb of sackcloth and ashes." 
In pathetic contrast to these scenes were the rosy, 
cherubic little pages, in white blouses and cambric 
collars, who flitted to and fro, bearing, with smiling 
faces, dynamic notes and messages from one rep- 
resentative to another. They represented the future 
which these gentlemen were engaged in wrecking — 
for many of these boys were sons of Southern widows, 

150 My Day 

who even now, under the most genial skies, led 
lives of anxiety and struggle. Thoroughly alarmed, 
the women of Washington thronged the galleries of 
the House and the Senate-chamber. From morn- 
ing until the hour of adjournment we would sit 
spellbound, as one after another drew the lurid 
picture of disunion and war. 

When my husband's time came to speak on 
" the state of the country," he entreated for a 
pacific settlement of our controversy. " War," he 
urged, " war means widows and orphans." The 
temper of the speech was all for peace. He made 
a noble appeal to the North for concession. He 
prophesied (the dreamer) that the South could never 
be subdued by resort to arms ! My Northern friends 
were prompt to congratulate me upon his speech on 
" the state of the country," and to praise it with 
generous words as " calm, free from vituperation, 
eloquent in pleading for peace and forbearance." 

The evening after this speech was delivered we 
were sitting in the library, on the first floor of our 
home, when there was a ring at the door-bell. The 
servants were in a distant part of the house, and 
such was our excited state that I ran to the door 
and answered the bell myself. It was snowing fast, 
a carriage stood at the door, and out of it bundled 
a mass of shawls and woollen scarfs.. On entering, a 
man-servant commenced unwinding the bundle, 
which proved to be the Secretary of State, General 
Cass ! We knew not what to think. He was 
seventy-seven years old. Every night at nine 
o'clock it was the custom of his daughter, Mrs. Can- 

My Day 151 

field, to wrap him in flannels and put him to bed. 
What had brought him out at midnight? As soon 
as he entered, before sitting down, he exclaimed : 
" Mr. Pryor, I have been hearing about secession 
for a long time — and I would not listen. But now 
I am frightened, sir, I am frightened ! Your speech 
in the House to-day gives me some hope. Mr. 
Pryor ! I crossed the Ohio when I was sixteen 
years old with but a pittance in my pocket, and this 
glorious Union has made me what I am. I have 
risen from my bed, sir, to implore you to do what 
you can to avert the disasters which threaten our 
country with ruin." 

We had this solemn warning to report to our 
Southern friends who assembled many an evening 
in our library : R. M. T. Hunter, Muscoe Garnett, 
Porcher Miles, L. Q. C. Lamar, Boyce, Barksdale 
of Mississippi, Keitt of South Carolina, with perhaps 
some visitors from the South. Then Susan would 
light her fires and show us the kind of oysters that 
could please her " own white folks," and James 
would bring in lemons and hot water, with some 
choice brand of old Kentucky. 

These were not convivial gatherings. These men 
held troubled consultations on the state of the coun- 
try, — the real meaning and intent of the North, the 
half-trusted scheme of Judge Douglas to allow the 
territories to settle for themselves the vexed ques- 
tion of slavery within their borders, the right of 
peaceable secession. The dawn would find them again 
and againwith but one conclusion, — they would stand 
together : " Unum et commune periclum una salus I " 

152 My Day 

But Holbein's spectre was already behind the 
door, and had marked his men ! In a few months 
the swift bullet for one enthusiast ; for another (the 
least considered of them all), a glorious death on 
the walls of a hard-won rampart — he the first to 
raise his colors and the shout of victory ; for only one, 
or two, or three, that doubtful boon of existence after 
the struggle was all over ; for all survivors, memo- 
ries that made the next four years seem to be the 
sum of life, — the only real life, — beside which the 
corning years would be but a troubled dream. 

The long session did not close until June, and in 
the preceding month Abraham Lincoln was chosen 
candidate by the Republican party for the presi- 
dency. Stephen A. Douglas was the candidate of 
the Democrats. The South and the " Old Line 
Whigs " also named their men. The words " irre- 
pressible conflict " were much used during the ensu- 
ing campaign. 

The authorship of these words has always been 
credited to Mr. Seward. Their true origin may be 
found in the address of Mr. Lincoln, delivered at 
Cincinnati, Ohio, in September, 1859. On page 
262 of the volume published by Follett, Foster, and 
Company in i860, entitled "Political Debates be- 
tween Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen 
A. Douglas," may be found the following extract 
from Mr. Lincoln's speech : — 

" I have alluded in the beginning of these remarks to the 
fact that Judge Douglas has made great complaint of my 
having expressed the opinion that this government 4 can- 
not endure permanently half slave and half free.' He has 

My Day 153 

complained of Seward for using different language, and 
declaring that there is an l irrepressible conflict ' between 
the principles of free and slave labor. ^A voice, w He says 
it is not original with Seward. That is original with Lin- 
coln."] I will attend to that immediately, sir. Since that 
time Hickman of Pennsylvania expressed the same senti- 
ment. He has never denounced Mr. Hickman ; why ? 
There is a little chance, notwithstanding that opinion in 
the mouth of Hickman, that he may yet be a Douglas man. 
That is the difference ! It is not unpatriotic to hold that 
opinion, if a man is a Douglas man. 

" But neither I, nor Seward, nor Hickman is entitled to 
the enviable or unenviable distinction of having first ex- 
pressed that idea. That same idea was expressed by the 
Richmond Enquirer in Virginia, in 1856, quite two years before 
it was expressed by the first of us. And while Douglas was 
pluming himself that in his conflict with my humble self, last 
year, he had ' squelched out ' that fatal heresy, as he de- 
lighted to call it, and had suggested that if he only had had 
a chance to be in New York and meet Seward he would 
have c squelched ' it there also, it never occurred to him to 
breathe a word against Pryor. I don't think that you can 
discover that Douglas ever talked of going to Virginia to 
4 squelch ' out that idea there. No. More than that. 
That same Roger A. Pryor was brought to Washington 
City and made the editor of the par excellence Douglas 
paper, after making use of that expression, which in us is 
so unpatriotic and heretical." 

On November 6, i860, Mr. Lincoln was elected 
President of the United States. On the following 
December 20 we heard that South Carolina had 
seceded from the Union. We were all, at the time 
the news arrived, attending the wedding of Mr. 
Bouligny and Miss Parker. The ceremony had 

154 My Day 

taken place, and I was standing behind the Presi- 
dent's chair when a commotion in the hall arrested 
his attention. He looked at me over his shoulder 
and asked if I supposed the house was on fire. 

" I will inquire the cause, Mr. President," I said. 
I went out at the nearest door, and there in the en- 
trance hall I found Mr. Lawrence Keitt, member 
from South Carolina, leaping in the air, shaking a 
paper over his head, and exclaiming, "Thank God! 
Oh, thank God ! " I took hold of him and said : 
" Mr. Keitt, are you crazy ? The President hears 
you, and wants to know what's the matter." 

" Oh ! " he cried, " South Carolina has seceded ! 
Here's the telegram. I feel like a boy let out from 

I returned, and bending over Mr. Buchanan's 
chair, said in a low voice: "It appears, Mr. Presi- 
dent, that South Carolina has seceded from the 
Union. Mr. Keitt has a telegram." He looked 
at me, stunned for a moment. Falling back and 
grasping the arms of his chair, he whispered, 
" Madam, might I beg you to have my carriage 
called?" I met his secretary and sent him in 
without explanation, and myself saw that his carriage 
was at the door before I reentered the room. I 
then found my husband, who was already cornered 
with Mr. Keitt, and we called our own carriage and 
drove to Judge Douglas's. There was no more 
thought of bride, bridegroom, wedding-cake, or 
wedding breakfast. 

This was the tremendous event which was to 
change all our lives, — to give us poverty for riches, 

My Day 155 

mutilation and wounds for strength and health, 
obscurity and degradation for honor and distinction, 
exile and loneliness for inherited homes and friends, 
pain and death for happiness and life. 

Apprehension was felt lest the new President's 
inaugural might be the occasion of rioting, if not of 
violence. We Southerners were advised to send 
women and children out of the city. Hastily packing 
my personal and household belongings to be sent 
after me, I took my little boys, with their faithful 
nurse, Eliza Page, on board the steamer to Acquia 
Creek, and, standing on deck as long as I could see 
the dome of the Capitol, commenced my journey 
homeward. My husband remained behind, and 
kept his seat in Congress until Mr. Lincoln's inaug- 
uration. He described that mournful day to me, — 
differing so widely from the happy installation of 
Mr. Pierce ; " o'er all there hung a shadow and a 
fear." Every one was oppressed by it, and no one 
more than the doomed President himself. 

We were reunited a few weeks afterward at our 
father's house in Petersburg ; and in a short time 
my young congressman had become my young 
colonel — and congressman as well, for as soon as 
Virginia seceded he was elected to the Provisional 
Congress of the Confederate States of America, and 
was commissioned colonel by Governor Letcher. 

We bade adieu to the bright days, — the balls 
(sometimes three in one evening), the round of visits, 
the levees, the charming " at homes." The setting 
sun of such a day should pillow itself on golden 
clouds, bright harbingers of a morning of beauty and 

156 My Day 

happiness. Alas, alas! "whom the gods destroy 
they first infatuate." 

The fate of Virginia was decided April 15, when 
President Lincoln demanded troops for the subjuga- 
tion of the seceding states of the South. The temper 
of Governor Letcher of Virginia was precisely in ac- 
cord with the spirit that prompted the answer of 
Governor Magoffin of Kentucky to a similar call for 
state militia, " Kentucky will furnish no troops for 
the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern 
states ! " Until this call of the President, Virginia 
had been extremely averse from secession, and even 
though she deemed it within her rights to leave the 
Union, she did not wish to pledge herself to join 
the Confederate States of the South. Virginia was 
the Virginian's country. The common people were 
wont to speak of her as " The Old Mother," — " the 
mother of us all," a mother so honored and loved 
that her brood of children must be noble and true. 

Her sons had never forgotten her ! She had 
fought nobly in the Revolution and had afterward 
surrendered, for the common good, her magnificent 
territory. Had she retained this vast dominion, 
she could now have dictated to all the other states. 
She gave it up from a pure spirit of patriotism, — 
that there might be the fraternity which could not 
exist without equality, — and in surrendering it she 
had reserved for herself the right to withdraw from 
the confederation whenever she should deem it 
expedient for her own welfare. There were lead- 
ing spirits who thought the hour had come when 
she might demand her right. She was not on a 

My Day 157 

plane with the other states of the Union. "Vir- 
ginia, New York, and Massachusetts had expressly 
reserved the right to withdraw from the Union, and 
explicitly disclaimed the right or power to bind the 
hands of posterity by any form of government 
whatever." 1 

A strong party was the " Union Party," sternly 
resolved against secession, willing to run the risks of 
fighting within the Union for the rights of the state. 
This spirit was so strong that any hint of secession 
had been met with angry defiance. A Presbyterian 
clergyman had ventured, in his morning sermon, a 
hint that Virginia might need her sons for defence, 
when a gray-haired elder left the church, and turn- 
ing at the door, shouted, " Traitor ! " This was in 
Petersburg, near the birthplace of General Winfield 

And still another party was the enthusiastic seces- 
sion party, resolved upon resistance to coercion ; the 
men who could believe nothing good of the North, 
should interests of that section conflict with those 
of the South ; who cherished the bitterest resentments 
for all the sneers and insults in Congress ; who, 
like the others, adored their own state and were 
ready and willing to die in her defence. Strange 
to say, this was the predominating spirit all through 
the country, in rural districts as well as in the small 
towns and the larger cities. It seemed to be born 
all at once in every breast as soon as Lincoln de- 
manded the soldiers. 

When it was disclosed that a majority of the 

1 Life of Joseph E. Johnston, by Bradley T. Johnson, p. 21. 

158 My Day 

Virginia Convention opposed taking the state out 
of the Union, the secessionists became greatly 
alarmed ; for they knew that without the border 
states, of which Virginia was the leader, the cotton 
states would be speedily crushed. They were 
positively certain, however, that in the event of 
actual hostilities Virginia would unite with her 
Southern associates. Accordingly, it was determined 
to bring a popular pressure to bear upon the govern- 
ment at Montgomery to make an assault on Fort 
Sumter. To that end my husband went to Charleston, 
and delivered to an immense and enthusiastic audience 
a most impassioned and vehement speech, urging 
the Southern troops to " strike a blow," and assur- 
ing them that in case of conflict, Virginia would 
secede "within an hour by Shrewsbury clock." 
The blow was struck ; Mr. Lincoln called upon 
Virginia for a quota of troops to subdue the rebel- 
lion, and the state immediately passed an ordinance 
of secession. Here, in substance, is my husband's 
Charleston speech, as reported at the time by the 
New York Tribune : — 

" Mr. Roger A. Pryor, called by South Carolina papers 
the ' eloquent young tribune of the South,' was on Wednes- 
day evening serenaded at Charleston. In response to 
the compliment he made some remarks, among which were 
the following: ' Gentlemen, for my part, if Abraham Lin- 
coln and Hannibal Hamlin were to abdicate their office to- 
morrow, and were to give to me a blank sheet of paper 
whereupon to write the conditions of reannexation to the 
Union, I would scorn the privilege of putting the terms upon 
paper. [Cheers.] And why ? Because our grievance has 

My Day 159 

not been with reference to the insufficiency of the guaran- 
tees, but the unutterable perfidy of the guarantors ; and in- 
asmuch as they would not fulfil the stipulations of the old 
Constitution, much less will they carry out the guarantees 
of a better Constitution looking to the interests of the 
South. Therefore, I invoke you to give no countenance 
to any idea of reconstruction. \_A voice, " We don't intend 
to do anything of the kind."] It is the fear of that which 
is embarrassing us in Virginia, for all there say if we are re- 
duced to the dilemma of an alternative, they will espouse 
the cause of the South against the interests of the Northern 
Confederacy. If you have any ideas of reconstruction, I 
pray you annihilate them. Give forth to the world that 
under no circumstances whatever will South Carolina stay 
in political association with the Northern states. I under- 
stand since I have been in Charleston that there is some 
little apprehension of Virginia in this great exigency. Now 
I am not speaking for Virginia officially ; I wish to God I 
were, for I would put her out of the Union before twelve 
o'clock to-night. [Laugbter.l But I bid you dismiss your 
apprehensions as to the old Mother of Presidents. Give 
the old lady time. \_LaugbterJ\ She cannot move with 
the agility of some of the younger daughters. She is a 
little rheumatic. Remember she must be pardoned for de- 
ferring somewhat to the exigencies of opposition in the 
Pan Handle of Virginia. Remember the personnel of the 
convention to whom she intrusted her destinies. But 
making these reservations, I assure you that just so certain 
as to-morrow's sun will rise upon us, just so certain will 
Virginia be a member of the Southern Confederation. We 
will put her in if you but strike a blow. [Cbeers.~] I do not 
say anything to produce an effect upon the military opera- 
tions of your authorities, for I know no more about them 
than a spinster. I only repeat, if you wish Virginia to be 
with you, strike a blow ! ' " 

160 My Day 

The effect, however, of the speech was not merely 
the adoption of the ordinance of secession by Vir- 
ginia. In precipitating the assault upon Sumter 
the speech had another and now little known 

It must be borne in mind that when only South 
Carolina had seceded, the Republican party, with the 
assent of the President-elect, had proifered to the 
South a compromise in these terms: "The Consti- 
tution shall never be altered so as to authorize Con- 
gress to abolish or interfere with slavery in the states." 1 
Of course, no Southern state would oppose a propo- 
sition which for the first time made slavery eo nomine 
an institution under federal protection, and guar- 
anteed it perpetual existence in the slave-holding 
states. Equally evident was it that a measure sup- 
ported by Lincoln and the entire Republican party 
would prevail in every Northern state. The mere 
pendency, then, of such an overture, if not intercepted 
in its passage by an act of hostility between the 
seceded states and the federal government, would 
have certainly bound the border states to the Union, 
and have insured the miscarriage of the secession 

Had not the attack on Sumter been made at the 
critical moment, the Republican compromise, as 
already intimated, would have prevailed, and slavery 
have been imbedded in the Constitution and fastened 
upon the country beyond the chance of removal, — 
except by revolution, or the voluntary renunciation 
of its cherished interests by the slave-holding South. 

1 Rhodes's "History of the Jnited States," III, p. 175. 

My Day 161 

The latter alternative is an inconceivable possibility ; 
and hence, but for the " blow" which prompted 
hostilities and prevented a pacific solution, slavery 
would exist to-day as a recognized institution of the 

I do not pretend that this consummation was 
desired or anticipated by the Virginia secessionist, 
but affirm only that he " builded better than he 
knew," and that but for his act the nation would 
not now be free from the reproach of human slavery. 


THE " overt act," for which everybody looked, 
had been really the reenforcement by federal 
troops of the fort in Charleston harbor. 
When Fort Sumter was reduced by Beauregard, 
"the fight was on." My husband, with other 
gentlemen, was deputed by General Beauregard to 
demand the surrender of the fort, and in case of 
refusal which he foresaw, to direct the commandant 
of the battery, Johnson, to open fire. When the 
order was delivered to the commandant, he invited 
my husband to fire the first shot; but this honor 
my husband declined, and instead suggested the 
venerable Edmund Rurfin, an intense secessionist, 
for that service. It was the prevalent impression at 
the time that Mr. Ruffin did " fire the first gun " ; 
at all events he fired, to him, the last ; for on hear- 
ing of Lee's surrender, Cato-like, he destroyed 

Fort Sumter was reduced on April 12, and Vir- 
ginia was in a wild state of excitement and confusion. 
On May 23 Virginia ratified an ordinance of seces- 
sion, and on the early morning of May 24 the 
federal soldiers, under the Virginian, General Win- 
field Scott, crossed the Potomac River and occupied 
Arlington Heights and the city of Alexandria. "The 
invasion of Virginia, the pollution of her sacred soil," 
as it was termed, called forth a vigorous proclama- 


My Day 163 

tion from her governor and a cry of rage from her 
press. General Beauregard issued a fierce procla- 
mation, tending to fire the hearts of the Virginians 
with indignation. " A reckless and unprincipled 
host," he declared, " has invaded your soil," etc. 
Virginia needed no such stimulus. The First, 
Second, and Third Virginia were immediately mus- 
tered into service, and my husband was colonel of the 
Third Virginia Infantry. He was ordered to Nor- 
folk with his regiment to protect the seaboard. I 
was proud of his colonelship, and much exercised 
because he had no shoulder-straps. I undertook to 
embroider them myself. We had not then decided 
upon the star for our colonels' insignia, and I sup- 
posed he would wear the eagle like all the colonels 
I had ever known. No embroidery bullion was to 
be had, but I bought heavy bullion fringe, cut it in 
lengths, and made eagles, probably of some extinct 
species, for the like were unknown in Audubon's 
time, and have not since been discovered. How- 
ever, they were accepted, admired, and, what is 
worse, worn. 

My resolution was taken. I steadily withstood 
all the entreaties of my friends, and determined to 
follow my husband's regiment through the war. I 
did not ask his permission. I would give no 
trouble. I should be only a help to his sick men 
and his wounded. I busied myself in preparing a 
camp equipage — a field stove with a rotary chimney, 
ticks for bedding, to be filled with straw or hay or 
leaves, as the case might be, and a camp chest of tin 
utensils, strong blankets, etc. A tent could always 

164 My Day 

be had from Major Shepard, our quartermaster. 
News soon came that the Third Virginia had been 
ordered to Smithfield. McClellan was looking to- 
ward the peninsula, and Major-general Joseph E. 
Johnston was keeping an eye on McClellan. 

When I set forth on what my father termed my 
" wild-goose chase," I found the country literally 
alive with troops. The train on which I travelled 
was switched off again and again to allow them to 
pass. My little boys had the time of their lives, 
cheering the soldiers and picnicking at short inter- 
vals all day. But I had hardly reached Smithfield 
before the good people of the town forcibly took 
my camp equipage from me, stored it, and installed 
me in great comfort in a private house. My colo- 
nel soon left me to take his seat in the Confederate 
Congress along with Hon. William C. Rives and 
others of our old friends. I was left alone at Smith- 
field, not la fille du regiment, but la mere I I 
heard daily from all the sick men in winter quarters, 
and ministered to them according to my ability. 
The camp fascinated me. Picturesque huts were 
built of pine with the bark on, and in clearings here 
and there brilliant fires of the resinous wood were 
constantly burning. I knew many of the officers, 
and from them soon learned that the deadly foe at 
home was more to be dreaded than the foe in front. 
Smithfield was noted for its Virginia hams, its fine 
fish, its mullets that would leap into the fisherman's 
boat while he lazily enjoyed his brier-root, its great 
sugary " yams," as the red sweet-potato was called. 
It was noted as well for the excellence of its brandy. 

My Day 165 

My colonel issued stern orders that no intoxicat- 
ing liquors were to be sold to his soldiers. Every 
man who went on leave to the town was inspected 
on his return. But drunken men gave trouble in 
the camp, and it was discovered that brandy was 
smuggled in the barrels of the muskets, and in yams, 
hollowed out and innocently reposing at the bottom 
of baskets. 

Thereupon one morning Smithfield was in an 
uproar, negroes screaming and running about with 
pails to be filled, tipsy pigs staggering along the 
streets. A squad of soldiers had been ordered out 
from camp, had entered every store, and emptied 
the contents of every cask into the gutters. A 
drunken brawl had occurred in camp, and one 
soldier had killed another! 

The soldier was arrested and imprisoned. Later 
the prisoner was tried and acquitted, — his own 
colonel argued in his defence, — and completely 
sobered, he made a good soldier. The prompt act 
of the commanding officer was salutary. There was no 
more trouble — no more muskets loaded with in- 
flammable stuff, no more yams flavored with brandy. 

When the colonel was attending the session of 
Congress, Theo, not yet ten years old, was often 
mounted on a barrel, in his little linen blouse, to 
drill the Third Virginia! He had studied military 
tactics, Hardee and Jomini, with his father. Lying 
before me as I write is his own copy of Jomini's 
" L'Art de la Guerre," in which he proudly wrote his 
name. An event of personal interest was the presen- 
tation to the colonel of a blue silken flag, made by 

1 66 My Day 

the ladies of Petersburg. The party came down the 
river in a steamboat, and I have before my reminis- 
cent eyes an interesting picture of my colonel, as 
he stood with his long hair waving in a stiff breeze, 
listening to the brave things the dear women's 
spokesman said of their devotion to him and to their 
country. This flag is somewhere, to-day, in that 
country, but not in the home of the man who had 
earned and owned it. It is of heavy blue silk ; on 
one side the arms of the state of Virginia, on the 
other Justice with the scales. In the upper left- 
hand corner is the word " Williamsburg," room 
being left for the many other battles in store for 
the young colonel. 

Things were going on beautifully with us when I 
one day received a peremptory official order to change 
my base — to leave Smithfield next morning before 
daybreak ! The orderly who brought it to me 
looked intensely surprised when I calmly said: 
" Tell the colonel it is impossible ! I can't get 
ready by to-morrow to leave." 

" Madam," said the man, gravely, " it is none of 
my business, but when Colonel Pryor gives an 
order, it is wise to be a strict constructionist." 

My colonel had returned suddenly ; when I, in 
an open wagon, was on my way next morning at 
sunrise to the nearest depot, he and his men were 
en route to the peninsula. They gave McClellan 
battle May 5 at Williamsburg, — "Pryor and 
Anderson in front," — captured four hundred un- 
wounded prisoners, ten colors, and twelve field- 
pieces, slept on the field of battle, and marched off 

My Day 167 

next morning at their convenience. My colonel 
personally ministered to the wounded prisoners, and 
General McClellan recognizes this service in his 
" own story." After this he was promoted, and my 
bristling eagles retired before the risen stars of the 

The news of his probable promotion reached me 
at the Exchange Hotel in Richmond, whither I had 
gone that I might be near headquarters and thus 
learn the earliest tidings from the peninsula. There 
he joined me for one day. We read with keen in- 
terest the announcement in the papers that his name 
had been sent in by the President for promotion. 
Mrs. Davis held a reception at the Spotswood Hotel 
on the evening following this announcement, and 
we availed ourselves of the opportunity to make our 
respects to her. 

A crowd gathered before the Exchange to con- 
gratulate my husband, and learning that he had 
gone to the Spotswood, repaired thither, and with 
shouts and cheers called him out for a speech. This 
was very embarrassing, and he fled to a corner of 
the drawing-room and hid behind a screen of plants. 
I was standing near the President, trying to hold his 
attention by remarks on the weather and kindred 
subjects of a thrilling nature, when a voice from the 
street called out : " Pryor ! General Pryor ! " I 
could endure the suspense no longer, and asked 
tremblingly, " Is this true, Mr. President ? " Mr. 
Davis looked at me with a benevolent smile and 
said, " I have no reason, madam, to doubt it, except 
that I saw it this morning in the papers;" and Mrs. 

1 68 My Day 

Davis at once summoned the bashful colonel : 
" What are you doing lying there perdu behind the 
geraniums ? Come out and take your honors." 

Following fast upon the battle after which General 
Johnston ordered " Williamsburg " to be painted on 
his banner, my general fought the battle of " Fair 
Oaks" or " Seven Pines" — and in June the Seven 
Days' battle around Richmond. The story of these 
desperate battles has been told many times by the 
generals who fought them. " Pryor's Brigade " was 
in the front often ; in the thick of the fight always. 
I myself saw my husband draw his sword, and give 
the word of command "Head of column to the 
right" as he entered the first of these battles. 

I spent the time nursing the wounded in Kent 
and Paine's Hospital in Richmond, and have told 
elsewhere the pathetic story of my experience as 
hospital nurse. For the needs of that stern hour 
my dear general gave himself — and his wife gave 
herself. Every linen garment I possessed, except 
one change, every garment of cotton fabric, all my 
table-linen, all my bed-linen, even the chintz covers 
for furniture, — all were torn into strips and rolled 
for bandages for the soldiers' wounds. 

When the fight was over, a gray, haggard, dust- 
covered soldier entered my room, and throwing him- 
self upon the couch, gave way to the anguish of his 
heart — "My men! My men! They are almost 
all dead ! " 

Thousands of Confederate soldiers were killed or 
wounded. Richmond was saved! "I am in 
hopes," wrote General McClellan to his Secretary of 

My Day 169 

War, " the enemy is as completely worn out as I 

He was ! General Lee realized that his men must 
have rest. My husband was allowed a few days' res- 
pite from duty. Almost without a pause he had 
fought the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, 
Mechanics ville, Gaines's Mill, Frazier's Farm, and 
Malvern Hill. He had won his promotion early, 
but he had lost the soldiers he had led, the loved 
commander who appreciated him, had seen old 
schoolmates and friends fall by his side, — the dear 
fellow, George Loyal Gordon, who had been his best 
man at our wedding, — old college comrades, valued 
old neighbors. 

Opposed to him in battle, then and after, were 
men who in after years avowed themselves his warm 
friends, — General Hancock, General Slocum, Gen- 
eral Butterfield, General Sickles, General Fitz-John 
Porter, General McClellan, and General Grant. 
They had fought loyally under opposing banners, and 
from time to time, as the war went on, one and an- 
other had been defeated ; but over all, and through 
all, their allegiance had been given to a banner that 
has never surrendered, — the standard of the uni- 
versal brotherhood of all true men. 

I cannot omit a passing tribute to the heroic 
fortitude and devotion of the Richmond women in 
the time of their greatest trial. These were the 
delicate, beautiful women I had so admired when I 
lived among them. Not once did they spare them- 
selves, or complain, or evince weakness, or give way 
to despair. The city had "no language but a cry." 

170 My Day 

Two processions unceasingly passed along the streets ; 
one the wounded borne from the battlefield ; the 
other the cheering men going to take their places 
at the front. Within the hospitals all that devotion 
could suggest, of unselfish service, gentle ministra- 
tion, encouragement, was done by the dear women. 
Every house was open for the sick and wounded. 
Oh, but I cannot again tell it all ! Sacredly, ten- 
derly I remember, but to-day it seems so cruel, so 
unnecessary, so wicked ! I cannot dwell upon it ! 

One beautiful memory is of the unfailing kindness 
and loyalty of the negroes. In the hospitals, in the 
camps, in our own houses, they faithfully sympa- 
thized with us and helped us. Not only at this 
time, but all during the war, they behaved admir- 
ably. The most intense secessionist I ever knew 
was my general's man, John. Early in the day the 
black man elected for himself an attitude of quies- 
cence as to politics, and addressed himself to the 
present need for self-preservation. 

It was " Domingo," one of the cooks of our 
brigade at Williamsburg, that originated the humor- 
ous description of a negro's self-appraisement and 
sensations in battle, so unblushingly quoted after- 
ward by a certain " Caesar" in northern Virginia. 
A shell had entered the domain of pots and kettles, 
and created what Domingo termed a " clatteration." 
He at once started for the rear. 

" What's de matter, Mingo ? " asked a fellow- 
servant, " whar you gwine wid such a hurrification ? " 

" I gwine to git out o' trouble — dar whar I gwine ! 
Dar's too much powder in dem big things. Dis 

My Day 171 

chile ain't gwine bu'n hisself ! An' dar's dem Min- 
nie bullets, too, comin' frew de a'r, singin' : c Whar 
is you? Whar is you?' I ain't gwine stop an' 
tell 'em whar I is ! I'se a twenty-two-hundurd- 
dollar nigger, an' I'se gwine tek keer o' what 
b'longs to marster, I is ! " 

A story was related by a Northern writer of an 
interview with a negro who had run the blockade 
and entered the service of a Federal officer. He 
was met on board a steamer, after the battle of 
Fort Donelson, on his way to the rear, and ques- 
tioned in regard to his experience of war. 

" Were you in the fight ? " 

" Had a little taste of it, sah." 

" Stood your ground, of course." 

" No, sah ! I run." 

" Not at the first fire ? " 

" Yes, sah ! an' would a' run sooner ef I knowed 
it was a-comin' ! " 

" Why, that wasn't very creditable to your cour- 
age, was it ? " 

" Dat ain't in my line, sah, — cookin's my per- 

" But have you no regard for your reputa- 
tion ? " 

" Refutation's nothin' by de side o' life." 

" But you don't consider your life worth more 
than other people's, do you ? " 

" Hit's wuth mo' to me, sah ! " 

" Then you must value it very highly." 

" Yas, sah, I does, — mo'n all dis wuld ! Mo' 
dan a million o' dollars, sah. What would dat be 

172 My Day 

wuth to a man wid de bref out o' 'im ? Self-per- 
serbashun is de fust law wid me, sah ! " 

" But why should you act upon a different rule 
from other men ? " 

" 'Cause diffunt man set diffunt value 'pon his 
life. Mine ain't in de market." 

" Well, if all soldiers were like you, traitors 
might have broken up the government without 

" Dat's so ! Dar wouldn't 'a' been no hep fer it. 
But I don't put my life in de scale against no gub- 
berment on dis yearth. No gubberment gwine pay 
me ef I loss mehsef." 

" Well, do you think you would have been much 
missed if you had been killed ? " 

" Maybe not, sah ! A daid white man ain' 
much use to dese yere sogers, let alone a daid nig- 
gah ; but I'd a missed mehsef pow'ful, an' dat's de 
pint wid me." 


ON the 13th of August, 1862, McClellan aban- 
doned his camp at Harrison's Landing and 
retired to Fortress Monroe. General Lee 
withdrew all his troops from Richmond but two 
companies of infantry left behind to protect the 
city in case of cavalry raids. General Jackson 
joined General Lee, and the battle known as the 
second Manassas was fought. Wilcox, Pryor, and 
Featherstone were again to the front, and at one 
time when the desperate struggle of this hard-fought 
battle was at its height, and the situation augured 
adversely to the Southern troops, it was General 
Pryor's privilege to suggest that several batteries 
should be rushed to an advantageous position and a 
raking fire be opened upon the enemy's flank which 
nothing could withstand. Within fifteen minutes 
the aspect of the field was changed. On the plateau 
occupied by the Federals stood the Henry house, 
celebrated in all history as the spot where Jackson's 
Brigade, " standing like a stone wall," had, a year 
before, earned the name for their commander which 
has become immortal. 

I think it was early in September, 1862, that Gen- 
eral Lee announced to President Davis that he pro- 
posed entering Maryland with his army. Before he 
could receive an answer the Southerners were crossing 


174 My Day 

the Potomac singing " Maryland, my Maryland," 
and in a few days Jackson reached Frederick. " My 
Maryland " was earnestly invited and positively de- 
clined to rid her " shores " of " the despot's heel." 
The despot's hand could pay in good greenbacks for 
her wheat and flour and cattle, while these new fel- 
lows had only Confederate money. The governor 
and leading professional men were all loyal to the 
Union. The farmers drove their herds into Penn- 
sylvania, and in the mills the sound of the grinding 
was not low — it ceased altogether. The Confed- 
erates might defeat Pope and McClellan in the 
battle-field ; the farmer proved himself master of the 
situation in the wheat-field. 

My general was in Frederick with his brigade, 
and incidentally saw and heard nothing of the touch- 
ing occurrence commemorated by Whittier. The 
Quaker poet was a romancer ! I use no harsher 
term. I am perfectly willing Barbara Frietchie's 
" old gray head " should forever wear the crown he 
placed upon it, but I cannot brook " the blush of 
shame " over Stonewall Jackson's face. Blush he 
often did, — for he was as delicate as a woman, — 
but blush for shame, never! Rhodes says : "His 
riding through the streets gave an occasion to forge 
the story of Barbara Frietchie. It is a token of the 
intense emotion which clouds our judgment of the 
enemy in arms. Although Stonewall Jackson, not 
long before, was eager to raise the black flag, he was 
incapable of giving the order to fire at the window 
of a private house for the sole reason that there c the 
old flag met his sight,' and it is equally impossible 

My Day 175 

that a remark of old Dame Barbara, ' Spare your 
country's flag,' could have brought ' a blush of 
shame ' to his cheek. Jackson was not of the 
cavalier order, but he had a religious and chivalrous 
respect for women." He goes on to state that a 
woman, not Barbara Frietchie, waved a flag as Jack- 
son passed to which he paid no attention. Also, 
that when he had passed through Middletown, two 
pretty girls had waved Union flags in his face. 
" He bowed and raised his hat, and turning with his 
quiet smile to his staff, said : ' We evidently have 
no friends in this town.' " 

On September 15 the battle-line, with my hus- 
band's division (Longstreet's), was drawn up in 
front of Sharpsburg (or Antietam), and again Pryor, 
Wilcox, and Featherstone were well to the front. 
My husband commanded Anderson's division at 
Antietam, General Anderson having been wounded. 
This battle is quoted, along with the battle of Seven 
Pines, as one of the most hotly contested of the war. 
Sorely pressed at one time, General Pryor de- 
spatched an orderly to General Longstreet with a 
request for artillery. The latter tore the margin 
from a newspaper and wrote : " I am sending you 
the guns, dear General. This is a hard fight, and we 
had better all die than lose it." At one time during 
the battle the combatants agreed upon a brief cessa- 
tion, that the dead and wounded of both sides 
might be removed. While General Pryor waited, a 
Federal officer approached him. 

" General," said he, " I have just detected one of 
my men in robbing the body of one of your sol- 

176 My Day 

diers. I have taken his booty from him, and now 
consign it to you." 

Without examining the small bundle — tied in a 
handkerchief — my husband ordered it to be prop- 
erly enclosed and sent to me. The handkerchief 
contained a gold watch, a pair of gold sleeve-links, 
a few pieces of silver, and a strip of paper on which 
was written, " Strike till the last armed foe expires," 
and signed "A Florida Patriot." There seemed to 
be no clew by which I might hope to find an inheri- 
tor for these treasures. I could only take care of 

I brought them forth one day to interest an aged 
relative, whose chair was placed in a sunny window. 
" I think, my dear," she said, " there are pin- 
scratched letters on the inside of these sleeve-but- 
tons." Sure enough, there were three initials, 
rudely made, but perfectly plain. 

Long afterward I met a Confederate officer from 
Florida who had fought at Antietam. 

" Did you know any one from your state, Cap- 
tain, who was killed at Sharpsburg ? " 

" Alas ! yes," he replied, and mentioned a name 
corresponding exactly with the scratched initials. 

The parcel, with a letter from me, was sent to an 
address he gave me, and in due time I received a 
most touching letter of thanks from the mother of the 
dead soldier. 

In August I had left my Gordon, Theo, and 
Mary with my dear aunt, who had been compelled to 
abandon her mountain home and now lived near "The 
Oaks" in Charlotte County. There was no safety 

My Day 177 

any longer except in the interior, far from the 
railroads. Even there raiding companies of cavalry 
dashed through the country bringing terror and 
leaving a desert as far as food was concerned. 

For myself, as I could not go northward with 
my soldiers, I could at least keep within the lines of 
communication, and I selected a little summer resort, 
" Coyners," in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the 
line of the railroad. There I found General Elzey, 
— who had fought gallantly at Bull Run and else- 
where, — with his face terribly wounded and bandaged 
up to his eyes. He had been sent to the rear with 
a physician for rest and recovery. His brilliant 
wife was with him ; also his aid, Captain Contee, and 
his young bride, who had crossed the Potomac in 
an open boat to join him and redeem her pledge to 
marry him. We were joined by Mrs. A. P. Hill, 
General and Mrs. Wigfall and a lovely daughter 
who has recently given to the world an interesting 
story of her war recollections. The small hotel 
spanned a little green valley at its head, and stretch- 
ing behind was a velvet strip of green, a spring and 
rivulet in the midst, and a mountain ridge on either 
side. I had a tiny cottage with windows that 
opened against the side of the hill (or mountain), 
and lying on my bed at night, the moon and stars, as 
they rose above me, seemed so near I could have 
stretched a long arm and picked them off the hill- 
top ! 

Strenuous as were the times, awful the suspense, 
the vexed questions of precedence, relative impor- 
tance, rankled in the bosoms of the distinguished 


178 My Day 

ladies in the hotel. One after another would come 
out to me : " I'd like to know who this Maryland 
woman is that she gives herself such airs;" or, 
" How much longer do you think I'll stand Dolly 
Morgan ? Why, she treats me as though she were 
the Queen of Sheba." I could only reply with be- 
coming meekness : " I'm sure I don't know ! I am 
only a brigadier, you know — the rest of you are 
major-generals — I am not competent to judge." 

Nature had done everything for our happiness. 
The climate was delicious ; the valley was carpeted 
with moss and tender grass, and thickly gemmed 
with daisies and purple asters. Before sunrise the 
skies, like all morning skies seen between high hills, 
looked as if made of roses. A short climb would 
bring us to a spot where the evening sky and 
mountain would be bathed in golden glory. But 
oh, the anguish of anxiety, the terror, the dreams at 
night of battle and murder and sudden death ! 

My little Roger was desperately ill at this place, 
and for many days I despaired of his life. General 
Elzey's physician gave me no hope. He counselled 
only fortitude and resignation. The dear friend 
of my girlhood, George Wythe Randolph, was 
Secretary of War. I wrote him a letter imploring, 
" Send my husband to me, if but for one hour." 
He answered, " God knows I long to help and 
comfort you ! but you ask the impossible." I soon 
knew why. My general was at the front ! 

Not until late — long after every guest had de- 
parted — was I able to travel with my invalid son. 
Upon arriving in Charlottesville, he had a relapse of 

My Day 179 

typhoid fever and was ill unto death for many 
weeks. Meanwhile his father was ordered to the 
vicinity of Suffolk to collect forage and provisions 
from counties near the Federal lines. 

The enemy destined to conquer us at last — 
the "ravenous, hunger-starved wolf" — already 
menaced us. General Longstreet had learned that 
corn and bacon were stored in the northeastern 
counties of North Carolina, and he sent two compa- 
nies of cavalry on a foraging expedition to the region 
around Suffolk. 

" The Confederate lines," says a historian, " ex- 
tended only to the Blackwater River on the east, 
where a body of Confederate troops was stationed 
to keep the enemy in check." That body was 
commanded by General Pryor, now in front of a 
large Federal force to keep it in check while the 
wagon trains sent off corn and bacon for Lee's army. 
This was accomplished by sleepless vigilance on the 
part of the Confederate general. The Federal 
forces made frequent sallies from Suffolk, but were 
always driven back with loss. It is amusing to 
read of the calmness with which his commanding 
officers ordered him to accomplish great things with 
his small force. 

" I cannot," says General Colston, " forward your 
requisition for two regiments of infantry and one of 
cavalry : it is almost useless to make such requisi- 
tions, for they remain unanswered. You must use 
every possible means to deceive the enemy as to your 
strength, and you must hold the line of the Black- 
water to the last extremity." 

180 My Day 

General French writes : "If I had any way to 
increase your forces, I should do so, but I have to 
bow to higher authority and the necessities of the 
service. But you must annoy the villains all you 
can, and make them uncomfortable. Give them no 
rest. Ambush them at every turn." 

General Pryor did not dream I would come to 
his camp at Blackwater. He supposed I would find 
quarters among my friends, but I had now no 
home. Our venerable father had sent his family to 
the interior after the battles around Richmond, had 
given up his church in Petersburg, and, commending 
the women, old men, and children to the care of a 
successor, had entered the army as chaplain, " where," 
as he said, " I can follow my own church members 
and comfort them in sickness, if I can do no more." 

As soon as the position of our brigade was made 
known to me, I drew forth the box containing the 
camp outfit, packed a trunk or two, and took the 
cars for the Blackwater. The terminus of the rail- 
road was only a few miles from our camp. The 
Confederate train could go no farther because of the 
enemy. The day's journey was long, for the pas- 
senger car attached to the transportation train was 
dependent upon the movements of the latter. The 
few passengers who had set forth with me in the 
morning had left at various wayside stations, and I 
was now alone. I had no idea where we should 
sleep that night. I thought I would manage it 
somehow — somewhere. 

We arrived at twilight at the end of our journey. 
When I left the car, my little boys gathered around 

My Day 181 

me. There was a small wooden building near, which 
served for waiting-room and post-office. The only 
dwelling in sight was another small house, sur- 
rounded by a few bare trees. My first impression 
was that I had never before seen such an expanse of 
gray sky. The face of the earth was a dead, bare 
level, as far as the eye could reach ; and much, very 
much, of it lay under water. I was in the region of 
swamps, stretching on and on until they culminated 
in the one great " Dismal Swamp " of the country. 
No sounds were to be heard, no hum of industry or 
lowing of cattle, but a mighty concert rose from 
thousands, nay millions, of frogs. 

" Now," thought I, " here is really a fine opportu- 
nity to be/ jolly ' ! Mark Tapley's swamps couldn't 
surpass these." But all the railroad folk were de- 
parting, and the postmaster was preparing to lock his 
door and leave also. I liked the looks of the little 
man, and ventured : — 

" Can you tell me, sir, where I can get lodging 
to-night? lam Mrs. Pryor — the general's wife, 
and to-morrow he will take care of me." 

My little man did not belie his looks. He took 
me in his own house, and next day my general, at 
his invitation, made the house his headquarters. 

My stay on the Blackwater was most interesting, 
but I cannot repeat the story here. Suffice it to say 
that our safety so near the enemy's lines — he was 
just across the Blackwater — was purchased by 
eternal vigilance. 

Towards the last of January we had a season of 
warm, humid weather. Apparently the winter was 

1 82 My Day 

over ; the grass was springing on the swamp, green 
and luxurious, and the willows swelling into bud. 
There were no singing birds on the Blackwater as 
early as January 28, but the frogs were mightily ex- 
ercised upon the coming of spring, and their nightly 
concerts took on a jubilant note. 

One day I had a few moments' conversation with 
my husband about army affairs, and he remarked 
that our Southern soldiers were always restless un- 
less they were in action. " They never can stand 
still in battle," he said ; " they are willing to yell 
and charge the most desperate positions, but if they 
can't move forward, they must move backward. 
Stand still they cannot." 

I thought I could perceive symptoms of restless- 
ness on the part of their commander. Often in the 
middle of the night he would summon John, mount 
him, and send him to camp, a short distance away ; 
and presently I would hear the tramp, tramp of the 
general's staff-officers, coming to hold a council of 
war in his bedroom. On the 28th of January he 
confided to me that on the next day he would make 
a sally in the direction of the enemy. " He is get- 
ting entirely too impudent," said he ; " I'm not 
strong enough to drive him out of the country, but 
he must keep his place." 

I had just received a present of coffee. This was 
at once roasted and ground. On the day of the 
march fires were kindled before dawn under the 
great pots used at the " hog-killing time " (an era 
in the household), and many gallons of coffee were 
prepared. This was sweetened, and when our men 

My Day 183 

paused near the house to form the line of march, 
the servants and little boys passed down the line 
with buckets of the steaming coffee, cups, dippers, 
and gourds. Every soldier had a good draught of 
comfort and cheer. The weather had suddenly 
changed. The great snow-storm that fell in a few 
days was gathering, the skies were lowering, and the 
horizon was dark and threatening. 

After the men had marched away, I drove to the 
hospital tent and put myself at the disposal of the 
surgeon. We inspected the store of bandages and 
lint, and I was intrusted with the preparation of more. 

Meanwhile John, who was left behind, indemni- 
fied himself for the loss of the excitement of the 
hour by abusing " the nasty abolition Yankees," 
singing : — 

"Jeff Davis is a gent'man, 
An' Linkum is a fool ! 
Jeff Davis rides a fine white horse, 
An' Linkum rides a mule," etc. 

He was not the only one of the nation's wards 
who held the nation in contempt — root and branch, 
President and people. The special terms in which 
he loved to designate them were in common use 
among his own race. Some of the expressions of 
the great men I had known in Washington were 
quite as offensive and not a bit less inelegant, al- 
though framed in better English. I never approved 
of " calling names," for higher reasons than the de- 
mands of good taste. I had seen what comes of it, 
and I reproved John for teaching them to my little 

184 My Day 

" No'm," said John, crestfallen, " I won't say 
nothin' ; I'll just say the Yankees are mighty mean 

My dear general found the enemy at the " De- 
serted House " ; and there gave them battle. He 
may tell his own story : — 

" Carrsville, Isle of Wight, January 30, 1863. 
" To Brigadier-general Colston, 
" Petersburg, Va. 
" General : This morning at four o'clock the enemy under 
Major-general Peck attacked me at Kelley's store, eight 
miles from Suffolk. After three hours' severe fighting we 
repulsed them at all points and held the field. Their force 
is represented by prisoners to be between ten and fifteen 
thousand. My loss in killed and wounded will not exceed 
fifty — no prisoners. I regret that Colonel Poage is among 
the killed. We inflicted a heavy loss on the enemy. 

" Repectfully, 

" Roger A. Pryor, 
" Brigadier-general Commanding." 

On February 2 the general thus addressed his 
troops : — 

" The brigadier-general congratulates the troops of 
this command on the results of the recent combat. 

" The enemy endeavored under cover of night to steal 
an inglorious victory by surprise, but he found us prepared 
at every point, and despite his superior numbers, greater 
than your own in the proportion of five to one, he was 
signally repulsed and compelled to leave us in possession of 
the field. 

" After silencing his guns and dispersing his infantry, 
you remained on the field from night until one o'clock, 

My Day 185 

awaiting the renewal of the attack, but he did not again 
venture to encounter your terrible fire. 

" When the disparity of force between the parties is 
considered, with the proximity of the enemy to his strong- 
hold, and his facilities of reinforcements by railway, the re- 
sult of the action of the 30th will be accepted as a splendid 
illustration of your courage and good conduct." 

One of the "enemy's" papers declared that our 
force was " three regiments of infantry, fourteen 
pieces of artillery, and about nine hundred cavalry ! " 

The temptation to " lie under a mistake " was 
great in those days of possible disaffection, when 
soldiers had to believe in their cause in order to de- 
fend it. One of the newspaper correspondents of 
the enemy explained why we were not again attacked 
after the first fight. He said: "Some may inquire 
why we did not march forthwith to Carrsville and 
attack the rebels again. The reasons are obvious. 
Had he went [sic] to Carrsville, Pry or would have 
had the advantage to cut off our retreat. The na- 
tives know every by-path and blind road through 
the woods and are ever ready to help the rebels to 
our detriment. Pryor can always cross the Black- 
water on his floating bridge. It is prudent to allow 
an enemy to get well away from his stronghold the 
better to capture his guns and destroy his ammuni- 
tion," etc. 

Another paper declares he was heavily reenforced 
at Carrsville. 

Another records: "The rebels have been very 
bold in this neighborhood. Pryor has been in the 
habit of crossing the Blackwater River whenever he 

1 86 My Day 

wanted to. Our attacking him this time must have 
been a real surprise to him. We took a large num- 
ber of prisoners ! " 

He continued the indulgence of this habit until 
spring, receiving from his countrymen unstinted 
praise for his protection of that part of our state, 
and for the generous supplies he sent all winter to 
Lee's army. 


AS for myself, when my general was no longer 
needed on the Blackwater, the camp chest and 
I and the little boys took the road again. 
We wandered from place to place, and at last were 
taken as boarders, invited by a farmer, evidently 
without the consent of his wife. There I was, of 
all women made most miserable. The mistress of 
the house had not wanted " refugees." Everything 
combined to my discomfort and wretchedness, and 
my dear general, making me a flying visit from 
Richmond where he was detained on duty., coun- 
selled me to go still farther into the interior to an 
old watering place, the " Amelia Springs " kept by 
a dear Virginia woman, Mrs. Winn. I had no 
sooner arrived and been welcomed by a number of 
refugee women, and a host of children when my 
three little boys developed whooping-cough, and 
were strictly quarantined in a cottage at the extreme 
edge of the grounds. The little hotel and cottages 
were filled with agreeable women, but everything 
was so sad, there was no heart in any one for 
gayety of any kind. One evening the proprietor 
proposed that the ballroom be lighted and a soli- 
tary fiddler, " Bozeman," — who was also the bar- 
ber, — be installed in the musician's seat and show 
us what he could do. Young feet cannot resist a 
good waltz or polka, and the floor was soon filled 


1 88 My Day 

with care-forgetting maidens — there were no men 
except the proprietor and the fiddler. Presently a 
telegram was received by the former. We huddled 
together under the chandelier to read it. Vicks- 
burg had fallen ! The gallant General Pemberton 
had been starved into submission. Surely and swiftly 
the coil was tightening around us. Surely and 
swiftly would we, too, be starved into submission. 
My general was in Richmond serving on a 
court-martial, when the news from Gettysburg 
reached the city. Every house was in mourning, 
every heart broken. He called upon President and 
Mrs. Davis, and was told that the President could 
receive no one, but that Mrs. Davis would be glad 
to see him. The weather was intensely hot, and he 
felt he must not inflict a long visit ; but when he 
rose to leave, Mrs. Davis, who seemed unwilling to 
be left alone, begged him to remain. After a few 
minutes the President appeared, weary, silent, and 
depressed. Presently a dear little boy entered in 
his night-robe, and kneeling beside his father's 
knee, repeated his evening prayer of thankfulness 
and of supplication for God's blessing on the coun- 
try. The President laid his hand on the boy's head 
and fervently responded, " Amen." The scene re- 
curred vividly, in the light of future events, to my 
husband's memory. With the coming day came 
the news of the surrender of Vicksburg, — news of 
which Mr. Davis had been forewarned the evening 
before, — and already the Angel of Death was hover- 
ing near to enfold the beautiful boy and bear him 
away from a world of trouble. 

My Day 189 

The long, sultry nights were spent by me in 
nursing my little boys through their distressing 
whooping-cough paroxysms. I was sleeping after 
a wakeful night, when I heard, as in a dream, 
my dear general's voice. I opened my heavy eyes 
to see him seated beside me. He earnestly en- 
treated me to bear with patience the news he 
brought me — first that he must return in an hour 
to catch a train back to Richmond, and then that 
he had resigned his commission as brigadier-gen- 
eral and was en route to join General Fitz Lee's cav- 
alry as a private. I have told the story of the 
events which culminated in this unprecedented act 
of a brigadier-general, and I fear I have not time or 
space to repeat it here. Briefly, Congress having 
recommended that regiments should be enlisted under 
officers from their own states, — in order to remedy, 
if possible, the disinclination to reenlist for the war, 
— there was a general upheaval and change through- 
out the entire army during the autumn of 1862. 
The Second, Fifth, and Eighth Florida regiments of 
General Pryor's Brigade were assigned to a Florida 
brigadier, the Fourteenth Alabama and the Fifth 
North Carolina to officers from their respective 
states. He was, in consequence of this order of 
Congress, left without a brigade. He was posi- 
tively assured of a permanent command. " I re- 
gretted," wrote General Lee, November 25, 1862, 
" at the time, the breaking up of your brigade, but 
you are aware that the circumstances which produced 
it were beyond my control. I hope it will not be 
long before you will be again in the field, that the 

190 My Day 

country may derive the benefit of your zeal and 
activity." He had a right to expect reward for his 
splendid service on the Blackwater. He had never 
ceased all winter to remind the Secretary of War of 
his promise to give him a permanent command. 
He felt that he had earned it. He had fought 
many battles, — Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Me- 
chanicsville, Gaines's Mill, Frazier's Farm, the 
second Manassas, and Sharpsburg, besides the 
fight at the Deserted House on the Blackwater. 

He now wrote, April 6, 1 863, an almost passionate 
appeal to the President himself, imploring that he be 
sent into active service, and not be " denied partici- 
pation in the struggles that are soon to determine 
the destinies of my country. If I know myself," he 
added, " it is not the vanity of command that moves 
me to this appeal. A single and sincere wish to 
contribute somewhat to the success of our cause 
impels me to entreat that I may be assigned to duty. 
That my position is not the consequence of any 
default of mine you will be satisfied by the enclosed 
letter from General Lee." The letter was followed 
by new promises. It was supplemented by General 
Pryor's fellow-officers, who not only urged that the 
country should not lose his services, but designated 
certain regiments which might easily be assigned to 
him. The President wrote courteous letters in reply, 
always repeating assurances of esteem, etc., and con- 
tinuing to give brigades to newer officers. The 
Richmond Examiner and other papers now began to 
notice the matter and present General Pryor as 
arrayed with the party against the administration. 

My Day 191 

This being untrue, he was magnanimous enough to 
contradict. On March 17, 1863, the President 
wrote to him the following: — 

" General Roger A. Pryor : 

" General : Your gratifying letter on the 1 6th inst., 
referring to an article in the Examiner newspaper which 
seems to associate you with the opposition to the admin- 
istration, has been received, 

"I did not see the article in question, but I am glad it 
had led to an expression so agreeable. The good opinion 
of one so competent to judge of public affairs, and who has 
known me so long and closely, is a great support in the 
midst of many and arduous trials. 

" Very respectfully and truly yours, 

" Jefferson Davis." 

Among the letters sent to Mr. Davis in General 
Pryor's behalf was one from General Lee and one 
from General Jackson, both of which unhappily re- 
mained in the President's possession, no copies hav- 
ing been kept by General Pryor. 

As time went on, my husband waited with such 
patience as he could command. Finally he resigned 
his commission as brigadier-general and also his seat 
in Congress, and entered General Fitzhugh Lee's 
cavalry as a private soldier. His resignation was 
held a long time by the President, " in the hope it 
would be reconsidered," and repeatedly General 
Pryor was " assured of the President's esteem," etc. 
General Jackson, General Longstreet, General A. P. 
Hill, General D. H. Hill, General Wilcox, General 
George Pickett, General Beauregard, were all his 

192 My Day 

devoted friends. Some of them had, like General 
Johnston and General McClellan, similar experience. 

It was a bitter hour for me when my general fol- 
lowed me to the Amelia Springs with news that 
he had entered the cavalry as a private. " Stay 
with me and the children," I implored. 

" No," he said, " I had something to do with 
bringing on this war. I must give myself to 
Virginia. She needs the help of all her sons. If 
there are too many brigadier-generals in the service, 
— it may be so, — certain it is there are not enough 
private soldiers." 

But his hour had passed. He kissed his sleep- 
ing boys and hurried off to the stage that was to take 
him to the depot. There John was waiting with his 
horses (he never accepted anything but a soldier's 
ration from the government), and they were off to 
join Fitzhugh Lee. 

The Divinity that " rules our ends, rough hew 
them as we may," was guiding him. I look back 
with gratitude to these circumstances, — then so 
hard to bear, — circumstances to which, I am per- 
suaded, I owe my husband's life. Even were it 
otherwise, God forbid I should admit into my bosom 
hard thoughts of any man. 

General Lee welcomed him in hearty fashion : — 

" Headquarters, August 26, 1863. 

" Honorable, General, or Mr. : How shall I address 
you ? Damn it, there's no difference ! Come up to see 
me. Whilst I regret the causes that induced you to resign 
your position, I am glad that the country has not lost your 

My Day 193 

active services, and that your choice to serve her has been 
cast in one of my regiments. 

" Very respectfully, 

" Fitz Lee." 

As a common soldier in the cavalry service, 
General Pryor was assigned the duties of his posi- 
tion, from not one of which did he ever excuse 

Having no longer a home of my own, it was 
decided that I should go to my people in Charlotte 
County. One of my sons, Theo, and two of my 
little daughters were already there, and there I ex- 
pected to remain until the end of the war. 

But repeated attempts to reach my country home 
resulted in failure. Marauding parties and guerillas 
were flying all over the country. There had been 
alarm at a bridge over the Staunton near "The Oaks," 
and the old men and boys had driven away the 
enemy. I positively could not venture alone. 

So it was decided that I should return to my 
husband's old district, to Petersburg, and there find 
board in some private family. 

I reached Petersburg in the autumn and wandered 
about for days seeking refuge in some household. 
Many of my old friends had left town. Strangers 
and refugees had rented the houses of some of these, 
while others were filled with the homeless among 
their own kindred. There was no room anywhere for 
me, and my small purse was growing so slender 
that I became anxious. Finally my brother-in-law of- 
fered me an overseer's house on one of his " quarters." 

194 My Day 

The small dwelling he placed at my disposal was to 
be considered temporary only ; some one of his town 
houses might soon be vacant. When I drove out to 
the little house, I found it hardly better than a hovel. 
We entered a rude, unplastered kitchen, the planks 
of the floor loose and wide apart, the earth beneath 
plainly visible. There were no windows in this 
smoke-blackened kitchen. A door opened into a 
tiny room with a fireplace, window, and out-door 
of its own ; and a short flight of stairs led to an 
unplastered attic, so that the little apartment was 
entered by two doors and a staircase. It was already 
cold, but we had to beat a hasty retreat and sit out- 
side while a negro boy made a " smudge " in the 
house, to dislodge the wasps that had tenanted it 
for many months. My brother had lent me 
bedding for the overseer's pine bedstead and the 
low trundle-bed underneath. The latter, when 
drawn out at night, left no room for us to stand. 
When that was done, we had all to go to bed. For 
furniture we had only two or three wooden chairs 
and a small table. There were no curtains, neither 
carpet nor rugs, and no china. There was wood at the 
woodpile, and a little store of meal and rice, with a 
small bit of bacon in the overseer's grimy closet. 
This was to be my winter home. 

Petersburg was already virtually in a state of 
siege. Not a tithe of the food needed for its army 
of refugees could be brought to the city. Our 
highway, the river, was filled, except for a short dis- 
tance, with Federal gunboats. The markets had 
long been closed. The stores of provisions had 

My Day 195 

been exhausted, so that a grocery could offer little 
except a barrel or two of molasses made from the 
domestic sorghum sugar-cane, an acrid and unwhole- 
some sweet used instead of sugar for drink with 
water or milk and for eating with bread. The 
little boys at once began to keep house. They 
valiantly attacked the woodpile, and found favor 
in the eyes of Mary and the man, whom I never 
knew as other than " Mary's husband." He and 
Mary were left in charge of the quarter and had a 
cabin near us. 

I had no books, no newspapers, no means of 
communicating with the outside world ; but I had 
one neighbor, Mrs. Laighton, a daughter of Wins- 
ton Henry, granddaughter of Patrick Henry. She 
lived near me with her husband — a Northern man. 
Both were very cultivated, very poor, very kind. 
Mrs. Laighton, as Lucy Henry, — a brilliant young 
girl, — I had last seen at one of her mother's 
gay house-parties in Charlotte County. We had 
much in common, and her kind heart went out in 
love and pity for me. Her talk was a tonic to me. 
It stimulated me to play my part with courage, seeing 
I had been deemed worthy, by the God who made 
me, to suffer in this sublime struggle for liberty. 
She was as truly gifted as was ever her illustrious 
grandfather. To hear her was to believe, so per- 
suasive and convincing was her eloquence. 

I had not my good Eliza Page this winter. She 
had fallen ill. I had a stout little black girl, Julia, 
as my only servant ; but Mary had a friend, a 
" corn-field hand," " Anarchy," who managed to 

196 My Day 

help me at odd hours. Mrs. Laighton sent me 
every morning a print of butter as large as a silver 
dollar, with two or three perfect biscuits, and some- 
times a bowl of persimmons or stewed dried peaches. 
She had a cow, and churned every day, making her 
biscuits of the buttermilk, which was much too pre- 
cious to drink. 

A great snow-storm overtook us a day or two be- 
fore Christmas. My little boys kindled a roaring 
fire in the cold, open kitchen, roasted chestnuts, and 
set traps for the rabbits and " snowbirds," which 
never entered them. They made no murmur at the 
bare Christmas ; they were loyal little fellows to 
their mother. My day had been spent in mend- 
ing their garments, — making them was a privilege 
denied me, for I had no materials. I was not " all 
unhappy!" The rosy cheeks at my fireside con- 
soled me for my privations, and something within 
me proudly rebelled against weakness or complain- 

The flakes were falling thickly at midnight on 
Christmas Eve when I suddenly became very ill. 
I sent out for Mary's husband and bade him gallop 
in to Petersburg, three miles distant, and fetch me 
Dr. Withers. I was dreadfully ill when he arrived, 
and as he stood at the foot of my bed, I said to 
him : " It doesn't matter much for me, Doctor ! 
But my husband will be grateful if you keep me 

When I awoke from a long sleep, he was still 
standing at the foot of my bed where I had left him 
— it seemed to me ages ago ! I put out my hand 

My Day 197 

and it touched a little warm bundle beside me. 
God had given me a dear child ! 

The doctor spoke to me gravely and most kindly. 
" I must leave you now," he said, " and, alas ! I 
cannot come again. There are so many, so many 
sick. Call all your courage to your aid. Remem- 
ber the pioneer women, and all they were able to 
survive. This woman," indicating Anarchy, " is a 
field-hand, but she is a mother, and she has agreed 
to help you during the Christmas holidays — her 
own time. And now, God bless you, and good-by ! " 

I soon slept again, and when I awoke, the very 
Angel of Strength and Peace had descended and 
abode with me. I resolved to prove to myself that 
if I was called to be a great woman, I could be a 
great woman. Looking at me from my bedside 
were my two little boys. They had been taken the 
night before across the snow-laden fields to my 
brother's house, but had risen at daybreak and had 
" come home to take care " of me ! 

My little maid Julia left me Christmas morning. 
She said it was too lonesome, and her " mistis " 
always let her choose her own places. I engaged 
"Anarchy " at twenty-five dollars a week for all her 
nights. But her hands, knotted by work in the 
fields, were too rough to touch my babe. I was 
propped up on pillows and dressed her myself, some- 
times fainting when the exertion was over. 

I was still in my bed three weeks afterward, when 
one of my boys ran in, exclaiming in a frightened 
voice, " Oh, mamma, an old gray soldier is coming 
in ! " 

198 My Day 

He stood — this old gray soldier — and looked 
at me, leaning on his sabre. 

" Is this the reward my country gives me ? " he 
said ; and not until he spoke did I recognize my 
husband. Turning on his heel, he went out, and I 
heard him call : — 

" John ! John ! Take those horses into town 
and sell them ! Do not return until you do so — 
sell them for anything! Get a cart and bring butter, 
eggs, and everything you can find for Mrs. Pryor's 

He had been with Fitz Lee on that dreadful 
tramp through the snow after Averill. He had 
suffered cold and hunger, had slept on the ground 
without shelter, sharing his blanket with John. He 
had used his own horses, and now if the government 
needed him, the government might mount him. He 
had no furlough, and soon reported for duty ; but 
not before he had moved us, early in January, into 
town — one of my brother-in-law's houses having 
been vacated at the beginning of the year. John 
knew his master too well to construe him literally, 
and had reserved the fine gray, Jubal Early, for his 
use. That I might not again fall into the sad plight 
in which he had found me, he purchased three hun- 
dred dollars in gold, and instructed me to prepare a 
girdle to be worn all the time around my waist, con- 
cealed by my gown. The coins were quilted in ; 
each had a separate section to itself, so that with 
scissors I might extract one at a time without dis- 
turbing the rest. 


EARLY in June the two armies of Grant and 
Lee confronted each other at Petersburg. My 
dear general had bidden a silent and most 
sad farewell to his little family and gone forth to 
join his company, when my father entered with great 
news. " I have just met General Lee in the street." 
" Passing through ? " I asked. " Not at all ! The 
lines are established just here and filled with his 
veterans." My general soon reentered joyfully. 
He would now be on duty near us. 

The next Sunday a shell fell in the Presbyterian 
Church opposite our house. From that moment 
we were shelled at intervals, and very severely. 
There were no soldiers in the city. Women were 
killed on the lower streets, and an exodus from the 
shelled districts commenced at once. 

As soon as the enemy brought up his siege guns 
of heavy artillery, they opened on the city with shell 
without the slightest notice, or without giving op- 
portunity for the removal of non-combatants, the 
sick, the wounded, or the women and children. 
The fire was at first directed toward the Old Market, 
presumably because of the railroad depot situated 
there, about which the soldiers might be supposed 
to collect. But the guns soon enlarged their opera- 
tions, sweeping all the streets in the business part of 
the city, and then invading the residential region. 


200 My Day 

The steeples of the churches seemed to afford targets 
for their fire, all of them coming in finally for a 
share of the compliment. 

To persons unfamiliar with the infernal noise 
made by the screaming, ricocheting, and bursting of 
shells, it is impossible to convey an adequate idea 
of the terror and demoralization which ensued. 
Some families who could not leave the besieged city 
dug holes in the ground, five or six feet deep, cov- 
ered with heavy timber banked over with earth, 
the entrance facing opposite the batteries from which 
the shells were fired. They made these bomb- 
proofs safe, at least, and thither the family repaired 
when heavy shelling commenced. General Lee 
seemed to recognize that no part of the city was safe, 
for he immediately ordered the removal of all the 
hospitals, under the care of Petersburg's esteemed 
physician, Dr. John Herbert Claiborne. There 
were three thousand sick and wounded, many of 
them too ill to be moved. Everything that could 
run on wheels, from a dray to a wheelbarrow, was 
pressed into service by the fleeing inhabitants of the 
town. A long, never ending line passed my door 
until there were no more to pass. 

The spectacle fascinated my children, and they 
lived in the open watching it. One day my little 
friend Nannie with my baby, nearly as large as her- 
self, in her arms, stood at the gate when a shell fell 
some distance from them. A mounted officer drew 
rein and accosted her. " Whose children are 

" This is Charles Campbell's daughter," said little 

My Day 201 

Nannie, "and this" — indicating the baby — "is 
General Pryor's child." 

"Run home with General Pryor's baby, little 
girl, away from the shells," he said, and turning as 
he rode off, " My love to your father. I'm coming 
to see him." 

" Who is that man ? " little Nannie inquired of a 

" Why, don't you know ? That's General 

We soon learned the peculiar deep boom of the 
one great gun which bore directly upon us. The 
boys named it " Long Tom." Sometimes for several 
weeks "Long Tom" rested or slept — and would 
then make up for lost time. And yet we yielded 
to no panic. The children seemed to understand 
that it would be cowardly to complain. One little 
girl cried out with fright at an explosion, but her 
aunt, Mrs. Gibson, called her and said: "My dear, 
you cannot make it harder for other people ! If 
you feel very much afraid, come to me, and I will 
take you in my arms, but you mustn't cry." 

Charles Campbell, the historian, lived near us, at 
the Anderson Seminary. He cleared out the large 
coal cellar, which was fortunately dry, spread rugs on 
the floor, and furnished it with lounges and chairs. 
There we took refuge in utter darkness when the 
firing was unbearable. My next-door neighbor, Mr. 
Thomas Branch, piled bags of sand around his house 
and thus made it bomb-proof. One day a shell 
struck one of my chimneys and buried itself, hissing, 
at the front door. Away we went to Mr. Campbell's 

202 My Day 

bomb-proof cellar, and there we remained until the 
paroxysmal shelling ceased. 

One night, after a long, hot day, we were so tired 
we slept soundly. I was awakened by Eliza Page, 
standing trembling beside me. She pulled me out 
of bed and hurriedly turned to throw blankets around 
the children. The furies were let loose ! The house 
was shaking with the concussion from the heavy guns. 
We were in the street, on our way to our bomb- 
proof cellar, when a shell burst not more than twenty- 
five feet before us. Fire and fragments rose like a 
fountain in the air and fell in a shower around us. 
Not one of my little family was hurt — and strange 
to say, the children were not terrified ! 

Another time a shell fell in our own yard and 
buried itself in the earth. My baby was not far 
away in her nurse's arms. The little creature was 
fascinated by the shells. The first word she ever 
uttered was an attempt to imitate them. " Yonder 
comes that bird with the broken wing," the servants 
would say. The shells made a fluttering sound as 
they traversed the air, descending with a frightful 
hiss. When they exploded in mid-air, a puff of smoke, 
white as an angel's wing, would drift away, and the 
particles would patter down like hail. At night 
the track of the shell and its explosion were precisely 
similar to our Fourth of July rockets, except that 
they were fired, not upward, but in a slanting direc- 
tion, — not aimed at the stars, but aimed at us ! I 
never felt afraid of them ! I was brought up to 
believe in predestination. Courage, after all, is 
much a matter of nerves. My neighbors, Mr. and 

My Day 203 

Mrs. Gibson, Mrs. Meade, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Campbell, agreed with me, and we calmly elected to 
remain in town. There was no place of safety 
accessible to us. Mr. Branch removed his family, 
and, as far as I knew, none other of my friends re- 
mained throughout the summer. 

Not far from our own door ran a sunken street, with 
the hill, through which it was cut, rising each side 
of it. Into this hill the negroes burrowed, hollow- 
ing out a small space, where they sat all day on 
mats, knitting, singing, and selling small cakes made 
of sorghum and flour, and little round meat pies. 

The antiphonal songs, with their weird melody, 
still linger in my memory. At night above the dull 
roar of the guns, the keen hiss of the shells as they 
fell, the rattle and rumble of the army wagons, a 
strong voice from the colony of hillside huts would 
ring out : — 

" My brederin do-o-n't be weary, 

De angel brought de tidin's down. 
Do-o-n't be weary 

For we're gwine home ! 

*' I want to go to heaven! 
( Answer) Yas, my Lawd ! 

I want to see my Jesus ! 
(Answer) Yas, my Lawd ! 

(Chorus) " My brederin do-o-n't be weary, 

De angel brought de tidin's down. 
Do-o-n't be weary 
For we're gwine home." 

The sorghum cakes were made to perfection in 
our own kitchen, but the meat pies were fascinating. 

204 My Day 

I might have been tempted to invest in them but 
for a slight circumstance. I saw a dead mule lying 
on the common, and out of its side had been cut a 
very neat, square chunk of flesh ! 

With all our starvation we never ate rats, mice, or 
mule meat. We managed to exist on peas, bread, 
and sorghum. We could buy a little milk, and we 
mixed it with a drink made from roasted and ground 
corn. The latter, in the grain, was scarce. Mr. 
Campbell's children picked up the grains wherever 
the army horses were fed, washed, dried, and pounded 
them for food. 

My little boys never complained, but Theo, who 
had insisted upon returning to me from his uncle's 
safe home in the country, said one day : " Mamma, 
I have a queer feeling in my stomach ! Oh, no ! it 
doesn't ache the least bit, but it feels like a nutmeg 

Poor little laddie ! His machinery needed oiling. 
And pretty soon his small brother fell ill with fever. 
My blessed Dr. Withers obtained a permit for me 
to get a pint of soup every day from the hospital, 
and one day there was a joyful discovery. In the 
soup was a drumstick of chicken ! 

" I cert'nly hope I'll not get well," the little man 
shocked me by saying. 

" Oh, is it as bad as that ? " I sighed. 

" Why," he replied, "my soup will be stopped if I 
get better ! " 

Just at this juncture, when things were as bad as 
could be, my husband brought home to tea the Hon. 
Pierre Soule, General D. H. Hill, and General Long- 

My Day ■ 205 

street. I had bread and a little tea, the latter served in 
a yellow pitcher without a handle. Mrs. Meade, hear- 
ing of my necessity, sent me a small piece of bacon. I 
had known Mr. Soule in Washington society — of 
all men the most fastidious, most polished. When 
we assembled around the table, I lifted my hot pit- 
cher by means of a napkin, and offered my tea, pure 
and simple, allowing the guests to use their discretion 
in regard to a spoonful or two of dark brown 

" This is a great luxury, madam," said Mr. 
Soule, with one of his gracious bows, " a good cup 
of tea." 

We talked that night of all that was going wrong 
with our country, of the good men who were con- 
stantly relieved of their commands, of all the mis- 
takes we were making. 

" Mistakes ! " said General Hill, bringing his 
clenched fist down upon the table, " I could forgive 
mistakes ! I cannot forgive lies ! I could get along 
if we could only, only ever learn the truth, the real 
truth." But he was very personal and used much 
stronger words than these. 

The pictures my general had brought from Eu- 
rope had been sent early from Washington to 
Petersburg, and I had opened one of the boxes 
which contained a large etching of Michelangelo's 
" Last Judgment." General Longstreet stood long 
before this picture, as it hung in our living room. 
Turning to Mr. Soule and General Hill he ex- 
claimed : " Oh, what does it all signify ? Here is 
the end for every one of us ! " — the end of all the 

206 My Day 

strife, the bloodshed, the bitterness — the final vic- 
tory or defeat. 

They talked and talked, these veterans and the 
charming, accomplished diplomat, until one of them 
inquired the hour. I raised a curtain. 

" Gentlemen," I said, " the sun is rising. You 
must now breakfast with us." They declined. They 
had supped ! 

In the terrible fight at Port Walthall near 
Petersburg, my husband rendered essential service. 
Among the few papers I preserved in a secret 
drawer of the only trunk I saved, were two, one 
signed Bushrod Johnson, the other D. H. Hill. 
The latter says : " The victory at Walthall Junc- 
tion was greatly due to General Roger A. Pryor. 
But for him it is probable we might have been sur- 
prised and defeated." The other from General 
Johnson runs at length : " At the most critical 
juncture General Roger A. Pryor rendered me 
most valuable service, displaying great zeal, energy, 
and gallantry in reconnoitring the positions of the 
enemy, arranging my line of battle, and rendering 
successful the operations and movements of the 
conflict." At General Johnson's request my hus- 
band served with him during the midsummer. Such 
letters I have in lieu of medal or ribbon, — a part 
only of much of similar nature ; but less was 
given to many a man who as fully deserved 

Having been in active service in all the events 
around Petersburg, my husband was now requested 
by General Lee to take with him a small squad 

My Day 207 

of men, and learn something of the movements 
of the enemy. 

" Grant knows all about me," he said, " and I 
know too little about Grant. You were a school- 
boy here, General, and have hunted in all the by- 
paths around Petersburg. Knowing the country 
better than any of us, you are the best man for this 
important duty." 

Accordingly, armed with a pass from General 
Lee, my husband set forth on his perilous scouting 
expeditions, sometimes being absent a week at a 
time. During these scouting trips he had had ad- 
ventures, narrow escapes, and also some opportuni- 
ties for gratifying, what has ever been the controlling 
principle of his nature, the desire to help the un- 
fortunate. Once he brought me early in the morn- 
ing three or four prisoners under guard, and as he 
passed me on his way to snatch an hour's sleep, he 
calmly ordered, " Be sure to feed them well." 

I find in an unpublished diary of Charles Camp- 
bell, the historian, this item : " I met Mrs. Pryor 
on her way to the commissary, with a small tin pail 
in her hand. She said she was going for her daily 
ration of meal." This " daily ration " for which I 
paid three dollars was all I had, except beans and 
sorghum, and John openly rebelled when ordered 
to serve it in loaves to my prisoners. However, he 
was overruled, and with perfect good humor my 
little boys acquiesced, gave up their own breakfast, 
and served the prisoners. 

No farmer dared venture within the lines — no 
fish were in the streams, no game in the woods 

208 My Day 

around the town. The cannonading had driven 
them away. There was no longer a market in 
Petersburg. I once, under shell fire, visited the 
Old Market. At the end of a table upon which 
cakes and jugs of sorghum molasses were exhibited, 
an aged negro offered a frozen cabbage ! 
ij The famine moved on apace, but its twin sister, 
fever, rarely visited us. Never had Petersburg 
been so healthy. Every particle of animal or vege- 
table food was consumed, and the streets were 
clean. Flocks of pigeons would follow the children 
who were eating bread or crackers. Finally the 
pigeons vanished, having been themselves eaten. 
Rats and mice disappeared. The poor cats stag- 
gered about the streets, and began to die of hunger. 
At times meal was the only article attainable, except 
by the rich. An ounce of meat daily was consid- 
ered an abundant ration for each member of the 
family. To keep food of any kind was impossible 
— cows, pigs, bacon, flour, everything was stolen, 
and even sitting hens were taken from the nest.'7 

In the presence of such facts as these General Lee 
was able to report that nearly every regiment in his 
army had reenlisted — and for the war ! And very 
soon he also reported that the army was out of meat 
and had but one day's rations of bread ! One of 
our papers copied the following from the Mobile 
Advertiser : — 

" In General Lee's tent meat is eaten but twice a week, 
the general not allowing it oftener, because he believes 
indulgence in meat to be criminal in the present strait- 
ened condition of the country. His ordinary dinner con- 

General Robert E. Lee in 1861. 

My Day 209 

sists of a head of cabbage boiled in salt water and a pone 
of corn bread. Having invited a number of gentlemen to 
dine with him, General Lee, in a fit of extravagance, 
ordered a sumptuous repast of bacon and cabbage. The 
dinner was served, and behold, a great sea of cabbage and 
a small island of bacon, or ' middling,' about four inches 
long and two inches across. The guests, with commend- 
able politeness, unanimously declined the bacon, and it re- 
mained in the dish untouched. Next day General Lee, 
remembering the delicate titbit which had been so provi- 
dentially preserved, ordered his servant to bring that c mid- 
dling.' The man hesitated, scratched his head, and finally 
owned up : — 

" ' Marse Robert, — de fac' is, — dat ar middlin' was 
borrowed middlin'. We-all didn' have no middlin '. . I done 
paid it back to de place whar I got it fum.' 

" General Lee heaved a sigh of disappointment, and 
pitched into the cabbage." 

Early in the autumn flour sold for $1500 a 
barrel, bacon $20 a pound, beef ditto, a chicken 
could be bought for $50, shad $5.50 a pair — the 
head of a bullock, horns and all, could be purchased, 
as a favor, from the commissary for $5. Gro- 
ceries soared out of sight. I once counted in a 
soldier's ration eight grains of coffee ! Little by 
little I drew from the belt of gold I wore around 
my waist, receiving towards the last one hundred 
dollars for one dollar in gold. These were anxious 
times, difficult times — but they were not the worst 
times ! We still had hope. Any day, any hour 
might bring us victory and consequently relief. We 
had the blessed boon of comradeship. Una et com- 
mune periclum, una salus ! Noble spirits were all 

210 My Day 

around us, strong in faith and hope. Discouraging 
words were never uttered when we talked together. 

My neighbor, Mrs. Meade and her daughters, 
were delightful friends, cheerful always. Soldiers 
were not allowed to wander about the streets, but 
one day I saw Mary Meade pause at her gate, just 
across the narrow street, and speak to one of them. 
" Do you know what he was asking me ? " she ran 
over to say. " Isn't it too funny? A soldier with 
his gun on his shoulder wanted to know if we kept 
a dog, and if he could safely take a drink from the 
well ! " A number of Englishmen hung about our 
camps near the close of the war. They were very 
agreeable, and while with us intensely Southern. I 
delighted in one who had hired rooms in Mrs. 
Meade's "office" opposite. He was so ardent a 
secessionist we honored him with the usual Southern 
title of "Colonel." He came over one morning in 
great indignation : " Oh, I say, it's a bit beastly of 
General Grant to frighten Mrs. Meade ! It'sajolly 
shame to fire big shells into a lady's garden." 

"What would you do, Colonel, if your chimney 
should be knocked off as mine was last week ? " 

"Well," — thoughtfully, — "I guess I'd toddle." 

The time came when I felt that I could no longer 
endure the strain of being perpetually under fire, 
and to my great relief, my brother-in-law, Robert 
Mcllwaine, removed his family to North Carolina, 
and placed Cottage Farm, three miles distant from 
the city, at my disposal. He had left a piano and 
some furniture in the house, and was glad to have 
me live in it. 

My Day 21 1 

I had been in this refuge only a few days, happy 
in the blessed respite from danger, when I learned 
that General Lee had established his headquarters a 
short distance from us. 

The whole face of the earth seemed to change im- 
mediately. Army wagons crawled unceasingly in a 
fog of dust along the highroad, just in front of our 
gate. All was stir and life in the rear, where there 
was another country road, and a short road connect- 
ing the two passed immediately by the well near 
our house. This, too, was constantly travelled ; the 
whir of the well-wheel never seemed to pause, day 
or night. We soon had pleasant visitors, General 
A. P. Hill, Colonel William Pegram, General 
Walker, General Wilcox, and others. General Wil- 
cox, an old friend and comrade, craved permission 
to make his headquarters on the green lawn in the 
rear of the house, and my husband rejoiced at his 
presence and protection for our little family. 

In less than twenty-four hours I found myself in 
the centre of a camp. The white tents of General 
Wilcox's staff-officers were stretched close to the 
door. " We are here for eight years — not a day 
less," said my father, and he fully believed it. This 
being the case, we brought all our boxes from town, 
unpacked the library and set it up on shelves, un- 
packed and hung our pictures. I hung the 
" Madonna della Seggiola " over the mantel in the 
parlor and Guido's " Aurora " over the piano. 
There was a baby house in one of the boxes and a 
trunk of evening dresses at which I did not even 
glance, but stored in the cellar. Everything looked 

212 My Day 

so cosey and homelike, we were happier than we 
had been in a long time. That my infant should 
not starve, I bought a little cow, Rose, from a small 
planter in the neighborhood, for a liberal sum in 
gold from my belt. " We mus' all help one an- 
other these times," he observed complacently. Rose 
was a great treasure. My general's horse, Jubal 
Early, was required to share his rations with her — 
indeed, poor Jubal's allowance of corn was sometimes 
beaten into hominy for all of us. John at once 
built a shelter close to his own room for Rose, 
" 'cause I knows soldiers ! They gits up fo' day 
and milk yo' cow right under yo' eyelids. When 
we-all was in Pennsylvania, the ole Dutch farmers 
used to give Gen'al Lee Hail Columbia 'cause his 
soldiers milked their cows. But Lawd ! Gen'al Lee 
couldn' help it! He could keep 'em from stealin' 
horses, but the queen of England herself couldn' 
stop a soldier when he hankers after milk. An' he 
don't need no pail, neither; he can milk in his can- 
teen an' never spill a drop." 

John and the boys were in fine spirits. They 
laid plans for chickens, pigeons, and pigs — none of 
which were realized, except the latter, which I per- 
suaded a butcher to give me for one or two of the 
general's silk vests. As we were to be here " for 
eight years, no less," it behooved me to look after 
the little boys' education. School books were found 
for them. I knew " small Latin and less Greek," 
but I gravely heard them recite lessons in the former ; 
and they never discovered the midnight darkness of 
my mind as to mathematics. As to the pigs, I had 

My Day 213 

almost obtained my own consent to convert them 
into sausages when I was spared the pain of signing 
their death warrant by their running away ! 

I knew nothing of the strong line of fortifications 
which General Grant was building at the back of 
the farm, fortifications strengthened by forts at short 
intervals. Our own line — visible from the garden 
— had fewer forts, two of which, Fort Gregg and 
Battery 45, protected our immediate neighborhood. 
These forts occasionally answered a challenge, but 
there was no attempt at a sally on either side. 

The most painful circumstance connected with 
our position was the picket firing at night, incessant, 
like the dropping of hail, and harrowing from the 
apprehension that many a man fell from the fire of a 
picket. But, perhaps to reassure me, Captain Lind- 
say and Captain Clover, of General Wilcox's staff, 
declared that " pickets have a good time. They 
fire, yes, for that is their business ; but while they 
load for the next volley, one will call out, ' Hello, 
Reb,' be answered, 'Hello, Yank,' and little parcels 
of coffee are thrown across in exchange for a plug of 
tobacco." After accepting this fiction I could have 
made myself easy, but for my constant anxiety 
about the safety of my dear general. He was now 
employed day and night, often in peril, gleaning 
from every possible source information for General 
Lee. While absent on one of these scouting trips, 
he once met a lady who, with her children, was vainly 
trying to pass through the lines that she might re- 
turn to her home at the North. Two years ago he 
received the following pleasant letter : — 

214 My Day 

" Representative Hall, 

" 29th Session 
" Nebraska Legislature. 

" Lincoln, 3/ 19th, 1907. 
" My dear Judge Pryor, 

" I cannot resist the desire I have to write you concerning 
an incident of the war, in which you played such a noble 
and splendid part. You may have forgotten Mrs. Mary C. 
Burgess, whom, with three little children, you escorted with 
much personal risk through from the Confederate picket 
line to the Union line. You took two scouts. Each took 
a child on his horse, Mrs. Burgess walking. You stopped 
in a ravine and told Mrs. Burgess to go into the open field 
to the right where she would see a man on a gray horse to 
the left, she to signal this man, who would command her 
to come to him. She did so, and then came back after the 
children. You bade Mrs. Burgess good-by. She took 
the children and went again to the man on horseback. 
He took her to General Meade's headquarters, where she got 
orders to go to City Point, where she was detained two weeks, 
General Grant being absent, and she could go no farther 
without General Grant's orders. You will remember 
how Mrs. Burgess was sent to Mrs. Cumming's house 
with an escort of cavalry and infantry with a flag of truce. 
They were suspicious of the attention paid Mrs. Burgess, 
and at first were inclined to treat her as a spy. But after 
many hardships Mrs. Burgess finally reached New York 
and friends. Mrs. Burgess is my mother-in-law ; is living 
with me ; is the same dignified, cultivated lady whom you 
may remember. She is now in her seventy-fourth year. 
The splendid acts of kindness shown by you to her and the 
three children no doubt saved their lives. Mother Burgess 
sits here and wants you to know you occupy a lifelong 
place in her memory. For myself and all the family, I 

My Day 215 

wish to say to you, Judge Pryor, that the English language 
does not contain words to express our admiration for your 
bravery, and our thankfulness to you for protecting the 
lone woman and children and the magnificent chivalry that 
prompted you like a true knight, which you are, to go to 
their rescue. I hope to have the honor and pleasure of see- 
ing you and shaking your hand. With kindest of personal 
regard to you and all dear to you, I beg to remain, 
" Yours sincerely, 

"H. C. M. Burgess, 
" 1568 South 20th St. 

« Lincoln, Neb." 


THE morning of November 29, 1864, found 
me comfortably seated at my breakfast table 
with my little boys and my small brother, 
Campbell Pryor. My venerable father, Dr. Pryor, 
had departed on his daily rounds to visit the sick 
and wounded in the hospitals, and my husband was 
away on special duty for General Lee. John had 
reported early with one cupful of milk — all that 
little Rose, with her slender rations, was capable of 
yielding. This we had boiled with parched corn 
and sweetened with sorghum molasses. With per- 
fect biscuits well beaten but unmixed with lard or 
butter we made a breakfast with which we were con- 
tented. I indulged myself in a long letter to my 
dear aunt, telling her of our comfortable home and 
the prospect of comparative quiet with the army soon 
to go into winter quarters. I had addressed my 
letter and was about to seal it when General Wilcox 
entered, and gently told me that my husband had 
been captured the day before ! 

I remember perfectly that I sat for a moment 
stunned into silence, and then quietly stamped my 
letter ! I would spare my aunt the sad news for 
a while. In a few minutes clanking spurs at the 
door announced the presence of a staff-officer. 

" Madam," he said respectfully, " General Lee 
sends you his affectionate sympathies." 


My Day 217 

Through the window I saw General Lee on his 
horse, Traveller, standing at the well. He waited 
until his messenger returned — I was too much over- 
come to speak — and then rode slowly towards the 

I had small hope of the speedy exchange promised 
me by General Wilcox. From day to day he re- 
ported the efforts made for my husband's release and 
their failure. General Lee authorized a letter to 
General Meade, detailing the circumstances of his 
capture and requesting his release. General Meade 
promptly refused to release him. 

We naturally looked to the enemy for all infor- 
mation, and although my husband had written me a 
pencilled note at City Point on the inside of a Con- 
federate envelope, and had implored his guard (a 
Federal officer) to have it inserted in a New York 
paper, I did not receive it until thirty-one years 
afterward. We soon had news, however, through a 
despatch from the Northern army to the New 
York Herald. The paper of November 30, 1864, 
contained the following: — 

" Yesterday a rebel officer made his appearance in 
front of our lines, waving a paper for exchange. The 
officer in charge of the picket, suddenly remember- 
ing that Major Burrage, of the Thirty-sixth Massa- 
chusetts, was taken prisoner some time since by the 
enemy while on a similar errand, ' gobbled' the rebel, 
who proved to be the famous Roger A. Pryor, ex- 
member of Congress and ex-brigadier-general of 
Jeff" Davis's army. He protested vehemently against 
what he styled ' a flagrant breach of faith ' on our 

218 My Day 

part. He was assured he was taken in retaliation 
for like conduct on the part of his friends, and sent 
to General Meade's headquarters for further dis- 

Press despatch to Herald, November 30, from 
Washington : " Roger A. Pryor has been brought 
to Washington and committed to the old Capitol 
Prison." Later a personal through the New York 
News reached me : " Your husband is in Fort Lafay- 
ette, where a friend and relative is permitted to visit 
him, (signed) Mary Rhodes." From an enormous 
quantity of letters, newspaper extracts, book notices, 
military reports, etc., describing his capture written 
by the men who made it and witnessed it, I select an 
interesting one, not hitherto published, which my 
husband received recently through my brother, the 
Mayor of Bristol. 

"Bristol, Tenn., July 10, 1908. 
« Hon. W. L. Rice, 

"Bristol, Va. 
" My dear Mayor : — 

"I very cheerfully comply with your request to give you 
a short sketch of the circumstances which led to my selec- 
tion as the Officer to convey Gen. R. A. Pryor to Fort 
Warren, Mass., in 1864. As an aid to my memory I have 
hunted over my old Army papers, and have found the orig- 
inal Order from the Military Governor of Washington, 
D.C., and also the receipt given me by Gen. Pryor for money 
which I turned over to him, on delivering him to the Com- 
mandant of Fort Lafayette, N. Y. Harbor, to which place 
my orders were afterwards changed and which papers I 
herewith attach. 

"In November of 1864 my Regiment, the 39th Mass., 

My Day 219 

was serving in the defences of Washington, and I had been 
detailed as an Aid on the staff of Gen. Martindale, then 
Commanding the Military District of Washington. Hav- 
ing received a Leave of Absence to visit my home in Mass., 
Col. T. McGowan, then Adjt. General of the District, 
kindly offered to place a prisoner in my charge and thus save 
to me my transportation. I did not know who my pris- 
oner was to be, until my orders were received, and naturally 
felt pleased to find that my charge was to be Gen. Roger 
A. Pryor, whom I had known by reputation from my boy- 
hood up. 

" Though my Orders read that I was to assist Brig. Gen- 
eral Wessels, I saw nothing of that gentleman until after 
General Pryor and myself had reached and taken seats in 
the train. Then Gen. Wessels made himself known, and 
asked an introduction to Gen. Pryor. 

"It was 9.30 at night when left Washington, and we 
did not reach New York until daylight next morning. When 
I received my prisoner at the Old Capitol Prison, I recall 
that the Supt., one Colonel Wood advised me to iron my 
charge, alleging that he was a dangerous man ; but this I 
refused to do, taking only Gen. Pryor's verbal parole that 
he would not attempt to escape while in my custody. 
This Gen. Pryor cheerfully gave, and religiously kept 
while with me. On arrival at Jersey City we became in 
some way separated from Gen. Wessels, and crossed over by 
the Cortlandt Street Ferry to New York. As the hour was 
early we stopped for breakfast at the Courtland Street Hotel, 
then quite a pretentious Hostelry. After breakfast, and 
while preparing to leave the Hotel for the Qr. Mas. Gen. 
Dept. where I was to find my orders and transportation, I 
was surprised to find that the Rotunda of the Hotel was 
packed, evidently with friends of Gen. Pryor and for a short 
time it looked as if my prisoner would be taken from me, 
but the Gen. directing me to take his arm, we passed through 

220 My Day 

without trouble. At the Quarter Master Genl's I found 
my orders changed, and I was directed to convey my pris- 
oner to Fort Lafayette New York Harbor in place of Fort 
Warren Boston Harbor. On arrival at Fort Lafayette we 
found Brig. Gen. Wessels awaiting us, and with him we 
proceeded across the ferry turning over our prisoner to 
Major Burke, Commandant at that Fort, taking his receipt 

" At this distance of time (44 years) it would seem that 
these occurrences must have passed from my memory, but 
I remember with distinctness the appearance of the Gen- 
eral, the incident at the Old Capitol, the crowd in the 
Rotunda of the Cortlandt Hotel, the miraculous passage 
through the sea of ' Red ' faces therein, and the appearance of 
Major Paddy Burke (a very old Officer of the Old Army) 
to whose custody I transferred my charge. I recall also 
the kind expressions of regard uttered by General Pryor as 
we shook hands at parting and the promise he extracted that 
should it be my fate to be wounded or a prisoner in Rich- 
mond, during the war, that I would make myself known to 
his familv there residing, who would respond to any appeal 
made by me. It was my fortune to pass through the re- 
maining months of the war without being captured, and 
never severely wounded, so I did not have to call on the 
generosity of a gallant foe, and I presume the memory of 
that journey to New York, and the memory of the stripling 
Officer who accompanied him on that journey, long ago 
passed from Judge Pryor's memory, but I recall it as a 
pleasant episode in a boy's life and I would wish, that in 
writing to the Judge, you would kindly convey to him my 
sincere congratulations on the honors he has attained, and 
the respect and love which he has received in his declining 
years, and with kindest wishes to yourself, believe me, 

" Very truly yours, 
wgs-omh " Wm. G. Sheen." 

My Day 221 

Mr. Sheen kindly sent my brother the order to 
which he alludes : — 

" Headquarters Military District of Washington 
" provost marshal's office 

"Washington, D.C., Nov. 29th, 1864. 
" Special Orders 
No. 21/ 

" Extract 
" It is hereby Ordered ! That Brigadier Gen'I, H. W. 
Wesseh assisted by Lieut. Wm. G. Sheen will proceed to 
Old Capital Prison and taken in charge the following 
named prisoner : 

" Roger A. Pryor Jth Va : Car 
and deliver him together with the accompany papers to the 
Commanding Officer at Fort Warren Boston Harbor take 
a receipt therefore and report action at these Head Quarters. 
" The Quartermaster Department will furnish the neces- 
sary transportation. 

" By Command of Col. M. N. Wiservell, 

" Military Governor. 
" Geo. R. Walbridge, 
" Capt & Asst Pro. Marshal." 

It will be perceived by the above that the Federal 
officers granted their captured private the honor of 
escort by a Federal general — Brigadier-general 
H. W. Wessels — and were inclined to confer upon 
him the further distinction of "irons." 

While he was detained in Washington, Major 
Leary (or Captain) discovered a plot to assassinate 
him, which he revealed to the prisoner, arranging 

222 My Day 

for his greater safety. Before he reached Fort 
Lafayette it appears he was threatened with assassi- 
nation and also rescue. Some kind friend in Wash- 
ington thrust into his overcoat pocket a bottle of 
brandy. It was taken from him when his pockets 
were searched, along with his letters and pistols, 
but returned by a Federal officer, who remarked, — 
recognizing the touch of nature which establishes 
the kinship of all men in all nations, — "Keep it, 
General ! There's an almighty sight of comfort in 
a bottle of brandy." The pistols were not returned 
and, along with an army cape, are preserved — I have 
understood — in a museum of war relics at Concord, 

A month elapsed before all the forms required by 
military law could be observed in sending the letters 
of prisoners through the lines. At last Colonel 
Ould forwarded to me a brief assurance of my dear 
captive's welfare. He was confined in a casemate 
with twelve other prisoners. A grate held a small 
quantity of coal, and on this fire the captive soldiers 
cooked their slender rations of meat. Their bread 
was furnished them from a baker. They lay upon 
straw mats on the floor. They were glad of the 
rule compelling them to fetch up their fuel from the 
coal cellar, as it gave opportunity for exercise. 
Once daily they could walk upon the ramparts, and 
my husband's eyes turned sadly to the dim outlines 
of the beautiful city where he had often been an 
honored guest. The veil which hid from him so 
much of the grief and struggle of the future hid also 
the reward. Little did he dream he should admin- 

My Day 223 

ister justice on the supreme bench of the mist-veiled 

The captives had no material except coal and 
water, but of the former they manufactured seal rings 
(to be set when they regained their liberty), inlaying 
a polished ebony surface with bits from a silver coin 
to represent tiny Confederate flags. One of these 
was given to my general, and lost in the great hour 
of losses. With the coal as a pencil, the prisoners 
indulged in caricatures of the commandant. Every 
morning a fresh picture on the whitewashed wall met 
his eye : " Burk as a baby," " Burk in his first pants," 
" Burk in love," etc., etc. The reward was the com- 
mandant's face when he saw them. 

After my husband's release, his place in the case- 
mate was filled by a "stylish" young officer who 
refused, absolutely, to submit to the degradation of 
bringing up his quota of the coal. 

" And so," said " old Burk," " you are too 
great a man, are you, to fetch your coal? I had 
General Pryor here. He brought up his coal ! I 
think, sir, you'll bring up yours ! " 

Before I take leave of my dear captive for the 
winter, I must record his unvarying fortitude under 
much physical discomfort, cold, and food which 
almost destroyed him. On the 20th of December, 
I received a brief note from Fort Lafayette: "My 
philosophy begins to fail somewhat. In vain I seek 
some argument of consolation. I see no chance of 
release. The conditions of my imprisonment cut 
me off from every resource of happiness." 

I learned afterward that he was ill, and often 

224 My Day 

under the care of a physician during the winter, but 
he tried to write as encouragingly as possible. In 
February, however, he failed in health and spirits. 

" I am as contented as is compatible with my con- 
dition. My mind is ill at ease from my solicitude 
for my family and my country. Every disaster 
pierces my soul like an arrow ; and I am afflicted 
with the thought that I am denied the privilege of 

contributing even my mite to the deliverance of . 

How I envy my old comrades their hardships and 
privations ! I have little hope of an early exchange, 
and you may be assured my mistrust is not without 
reason. Except some special instance be employed to 
procure my release^ my detention here will be indefinite. 
I cannot be more explicit. While this is my con- 
viction, I wish it distinctly understood that I would 
not have my government compromise any scruple 
for the sake of my liberation. I am prepared for 
any contingency — am fortified against any reverse 
of fortune." 

The problem now confronting me was this : how 
could I maintain my children and myself? My 
husband's rations were discontinued. I sent my 
general's horse far into the interior, to be boarded 
with a farmer for his services, as I had no possible 
means of feeding him. My only supply of food was 
from my father's ration as chaplain. I had a part 
of a barrel of flour which a relative had sent me from 
a county now cut off from us. Quite a number 
of my old Washington servants had followed me, to 
escape the shelling, but they could not, of course, 
look to me for their support. My household in- 

My Day 225 

eluded Eliza Page, Aunt Jinny, and Uncle Frank 
(old people and old settlers), and our faithful John. 
I frankly told John and Eliza my condition, but 
they elected to remain. 

One day John presented himself with a heart- 
broken countenance and a drooping attitude of deep 
dejection. He had a sad story to tell. The agent 
of the estate to which he belonged was in town, and 
John had been commissioned to inform me that all 
the slaves belonging to the estate were to be 
immediately transferred to a Louisiana plantation for 
safety. Those of us who had hired these servants 
by the year were to be indemnified for our loss. 

" How do you feel about it, John ? " I asked. 

The poor fellow broke down. " It will kill me," 
he declared. " I'll soon die on that plantation." 

All his affectionate, faithful service, all his hard- 
ships for our sakes, rushed upon my memory. I 
bade him put me in communication with the agent. 
I found that I could save the boy only by buying him! 
A large sum of gold was named as the price. I un- 
buckled my girdle and counted my handful of gold 
— one hundred and six dollars. These I offered to 
the agent (who was a noted negro trader), and 
although it was far short of his figures, he made out 
my bill of sale receipted. Remembered to-day, this 
seems a wonderful act on my part. At the time it 
was the most natural thing in the world ! 

John soon appeared with smiling face and in- 
formed me with his thanks that he belonged to 
me ! 

" You are a free man, John," I said. " I will 


226 My Day 

make out your papers and I can easily arrange for 
you to pass the lines." 

" I know that," he said. " Marse Roger has often 
told me I was a free man. I never will leave you 
till I die. Papers, indeed ! Papers nothing ! I be- 
long to you — that's where I belong." 

All that dreadful winter he was faithful to his 
promise, cheerfully bearing, without wages, all the 
privations of the time. Sometimes when the last 
atom of food was gone, he would ask for money, 
sally forth with a horse and a light cart, and bring in 
peas and dried apples. Once a week we were allowed 
to purchase the head of a bullock, horns and all, 
from the commissary for the exclusive use of the 
servants — I would have starved first — and a small 
ration of rice was allowed us by the government. 
A one-armed boy, Alick, who had been reared in my 
father's family, now wandered in to find his old 
master, and installed himself as my father's servant. 

The question that pressed upon me day and night 
was: "How, where, can I earn some money?" 
to be answered by the frightful truth that there could 
be no opening for me anywhere, because I could not 
leave my children. 

One wakeful night, while I was revolving these 
things, a sudden thought darted, unbidden, into my 
sorely harassed mind : — 

" Why not open the trunk from Washington ? 
Something may be found there which can be sold." 

At an early hour next morning John and Alick 
brought the trunk from the cellar. Aunt Jinny, 
Eliza, and the children gathered around. It proved 

My Day 227 

to be full of my old Washington finery. There 
were a half-dozen or more white muslin gowns, 
flounced and trimmed with Valenciennes lace, many 
yards ; there was a rich bayadere silk gown trimmed 
fully with guipure lace ; a green silk dress with gold 
embroidery ; a blue-and-silver brocade, — these last 
evening gowns. There was a paper box containing 
the shaded roses I had worn to Lady Napier's ball, 
the ball at which Mrs. Douglas and I had dressed 
alike in gowns of tulle. Another box held the 
garniture of green leaves and gold grapes which had 
belonged to the green silk, and still another the blue- 
and-silver feathers for the brocade. An opera cloak 
trimmed with fur ; a long purple velvet cloak ; a 
purple velvet " coalscuttle " bonnet, trimmed with 
white roses; a point-lace handkerchief; Valenciennes 
lace ; Brussels lace ; and in the bottom of the trunk 
a package of del blue zephyr, awakening reminis- 
cences of a passion which I had cherished for knitting 
shawls and "mariposas" of zephyr, — such was the 
collection I discovered. 

I ripped all the lace from the evening gowns and 
made large collars and undersleeves then in vogue. 
John found a closed dry-goods store willing to sell 
clean paper boxes. 

My first instalment was sent to Price's store in 
Richmond and promptly sold. I sold the silk 
gowns minus the costly trimming ; but when I had 
stripped the muslin flounces of lace, behold raw 
edges that no belle, even a Confederate, could have 
worn. I rolled the edges of these flounces — there 
were ten or twelve on some of the gowns — and 

228 My Day 

edged them with a spiral line of blue zephyr. I 
embroidered a dainty vine of blue forget-me-nots on 
bodice and sleeves, with a result simply ravishing ! 

After I had converted all my laces into collars, 
cuffs, and sleeves, and had sold my silk gowns, opera 
cloak, and point-lace handkerchiefs, I devoted my- 
self to trimming the edges of the artificial flowers, and 
separating the long wreaths and garlands into clusters 
for hats and bouquets de corsage. 

Eliza and the children delighted in this phase of my 
work, and begged to assist, — all except Aunt Jinny. 

" Honey," she said, " don't you think, in these 
times of trouble, you might do better than tempt 
them po' young lambs in Richmond to worship the 
golden calf and bow down to mammon ? We prays 
not to be led into temptation, and you sho'ly is 
leadin' 'em into vanity." 

" Maybe so, Aunt Jinny, but I must sell all I can. 
We have to be clothed, you know, war or no war." 

" Yes, my chile, that's so ; but we're told to con- 
sider the lilies. Gawd Almighty tells us we must 
clothe ourselves in the garment of righteousness, 
and He — " 

" You always 'pear to be mighty intimate with 
God A'mighty," interrupted Eliza, in great wrath. 
" Now you just run 'long home an' leave my mistis 
to her work. How would you look with nothin' on 
but a garment of righteousness ? " 

When I had stripped the pretty silk gowns of 
their trimmings, what could be done with the gowns 
themselves? Finally I resolved to embroider them. 
The zeal with which I worked knew no pause. I 

My Day 229 

needed no rest. General Wilcox, who was in the 
saddle until a late hour every night, said to me, 
"Your candle is the last light I see at night — the 
first in the morning." 

" I should never sleep," I told him. 

One day I consulted Eliza about the manufacture 
of a Confederate candle. We knew how to make 
it — by drawing a cotton rope many times through 
melted wax, and then winding it around a bottle. 
We could get the wax, but our position was an ex- 
posed one. Soldiers' tents were close around us, 
and we scrupulously avoided any revelation of our 
needs, lest they should deny themselves for our 
sakes. Eliza thought we might avail ourselves of 
the absence of the officers, and finish our work be- 
fore they returned. We made our candle behind 
the kitchen ; but that night, as I sat sewing beside 
its dim, glowworm light, I heard a step in the hall, 
and a hand, hastily thrust out, placed a brown paper 
parcel on the piano near the door. It was a soldier's 
ration of candles ! 

Of course I could not find shoes for my boys. 
I made little boots of carpet lined with flannel for 
my baby. A pair lasted just three days. A large 
bronze morocco pocket-book fell into my hands, of 
which I made boots for my little Mary. Alick, — 
prowling about the fields to gather the herb " life 
everlasting," of which we made yeast, — found two or 
three leather bags, and a soldier shoemaker contrived 
shoes for each of my boys. 

My own prime necessity was for the steel we 
women wear in front of our stays. I suffered so 

230 My Day 

much for want of this accustomed support, that 
Captain Lindsay had a pair made for me by the gov- 
ernment gunsmith — the best I ever had. 

The time came when the salable contents of the 
Washington trunk were all gone. I then cut up 
my husband's dress-coat, and designed well-fitting 
ladies' gloves, with gauntlets made of the watered 
silk lining. Of an interlining of gray flannel I 
made gray gloves, and this glove manufacture yielded 
me hundreds of dollars. Thirteen small fragments 
of flannel were left after the gloves were finished. 
Of these, pieced together, I made a pair of drawers 
for my Willy, — my youngest boy. 

The lines around us were now so closely drawn 
that my father returned home after short absences 
of a day or two. But we were made anxious, during 
a heavy snow early in December, by a more pro- 
longed absence. Finally he appeared, on foot, 
hatless, and exhausted. He had been captured by a 
party of cavalrymen. He had told them of his 
non-combatant position, but when he asked for re- 
lease, they shook their heads. At night they all 
prepared to bivouac upon the ground ; assigned him a 
sheltered spot, gave him a good supper and blankets, 
and left him to his repose. As the night wore on 
and all grew still, he raised his head cautiously to 
reconnoitre, and to his surprise found himself at some 
distance from the guard — but his horse tied to a tree 
within the circle around the fire. My father took 
the hint and walked away unchallenged, " which 
proves, my dear," he said, " that a clergyman is 
not worth as much as a good horse in time of war." 


IN the colony escaped from the shells and 
huddled together around General Lee were two 
very humble poor women who often visited 
me. One of them was the proud owner of a cow, 
" Morning-Glory," which she contrived to feed 
from the refuse of the camp kitchens, receiving in 
return a small quantity of milk, to be sold at prices 
beyond belief. I never saw Morning-Glory, but I 
often heard her friendly echo to the lowing of my 
little Rose, morning and evening. Being inter- 
preted, it might have been found to convey an 
expression of surprise that either was still alive, so 
slender was their allowance of food. 

One day I espied, coming down the dusty road, 
the limp, sunbonneted figure of Morning-Glory's 
mistress. She sank upon the nearest chair, pushed 
back her calico bonnet, and revealed a face blurred 
with tears and hair dishevelled beyond the ordinary. 

" Good morning, Mrs. Jones ! Come to the 
fire ! It's a cold morning." 

" No'm, I ain't cole! It's — it's" (sobbing) — 
"it's Mornin'-Glory ! " 

"Not sick? If she is, I'll — " 

" No'm, Mornin'-Glory ain't never goin' to be 
sick no mo'." 

" Oh, Mrs. Jones ! Not dead! " 

"Them pickets kep' me awake all las' night, an' I 


232 My Day 

got up in the night an' went out to see how 
Mornin'-Glory was gettin' on, an' she — she — she 
look at me jus' the same ! An' I slep' soun' till 
after sun-up, and when I got my pail an' went out 
to milk her — ■ thar was her horns an hufs! 

The poor woman broke down completely in tell- 
ing me the ghastly story. " Oh, how wicked ! 
How was it possible to take her off and nobody 
hear ? " I exclaimed in great wrath. 

" I don't know, Mis' Pryor, nothin' but what 
I tells you. Talk to me 'bout Yankees ! Soldiers 
is soldiers, an' when you say that, you jus' as well 
say devils is devils." 

My other poor neighbor had long been a pen- 
sioner on my father. She was a forlorn widow with 
many children, hopeless and helpless. My father 
was in despair when she turned up " to git away 
from the shellin'." She found a small untenanted 
house near us and set up an establishment which 
was supported altogether by boarding an occasional 
soldier on sick leave, and taking his rations as her 
pay. Like Mrs. Jones, she was a frequent visitor to 
my fireside. One morning, after some unusual 
demonstrations of coy shyness, she blurted out : " I 
knows fo' I begin what you goin' to say ! You 
goin' to tell me Ma'y Ann is a fool, an' I won't say 
you ain't in the rights of it." 

" Well, what is Mary Ann's folly ? I thought 
she had grown up to be a sensible girl." 

"Sensible ! Ma'y Ann ! Them pretty gals is never 
sensible ! No'm. Melissy Jane is the sensible one 
o' my chillun. I tole Ma'y Ann she didn't have 

My Day 233 

nothin' fitten to be ma'ied in, an' she up an' say she 
know Mis' Pryor ain' goin' to let one o' her pa's 
chu'ch people git ma'ied in rags." 

" I certainly will not, Mrs. Davis ! Mary Ann, 
I suppose, is to marry the soldier you've been tak- 
ing care of. Tell her she may look to me for a 
wedding-dress. When is it to be ?" 

" Just as Dr. Pryor says — to-morrow if con- 

I immediately overhauled the bundle of Wash- 
ington finery and found a lavender Pina, or " pine- 
apple " muslin, not yet prepared for sale. ! This 
was a delicate gown, trimmed with lavender silk, 
and with angel sleeves lined with white silk. This I 
sent to the prospective bride — considering her needs 
and station, a most unsuitable wedding garment, but 
all I had ! I managed to make a contribution to 
the wedding supper, a large pumpkin I extorted from 
John, who had "found" it. Melissy Jane, homely 
enough to be brilliantly " sensible," appeared to take 
charge of the present, — the most slatternly, un- 
lovely, and altogether unpromising of the poor 
white class I had ever seen ; and my father, in view of 
the great good fortune coming to the forlorn family in 
the acquisition of an able-bodied, whole-hearted Con- 
federate soldier, made no delay in performing the 
marriage ceremony. 1 About a week afterward Mrs. 
Davis, limper than ever, more depressed than ever, 

" I hope nobody's sick ?" I inquired. 

" No'm, the chilluns is as peart as common. 
Ma'y Ann don't seem no ways encouraged. 
' Pears like she's onreconciled." 

234 My Day 

fC Why, what ails poor Mary Ann ? " 

"Yas'm — he's lef' her! Jus' took hisself off 
and never say nuthin'. We-all don't even know 
what company owns him." 

" Mrs. Davis ! " I exclaimed, in great indigna- 
tion, " this is not to be tolerated. That man is to 
be found and made to do his duty. I can manage 

" I don't know as I keers to ketch 'im," sighed 
the poor woman. " Ef you capters them men 
erginst ther will, they'll git away ergin — sho ! Let 
'im go long ! He ain't paid me a cent or a ration of 
meat an' meal sence he was ma'ied. Anyhow," 
she proudly added, "May Ann is mazed! Folks 
can't fling it up to 'er now as she's a ole maid," — 
which proves that maternal ambitions are peculiar to 
no condition of life. 

Looking back, and living over again these stern 
times, it seems to me little short of a miracle that 
we actually did exist upon the slender portion of 
food allotted us. We could rarely see, from one 
day to another, just how we were to be fed. 
" Give us this day our daily bread " — this petition 
was our sole reliance. And as surely as the day 
would come, 

" He that doth the ravens feed, 
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow," 

would prove to us that we were of more value in 
His sight than many sparrows. 

General Lee passed my door every Sunday 
morning on his way to a little wooden chapel 

My Day 235 

nearer his quarters than St. Paul's Church. I have 
a picture of him in my memory, in his faded gray 
overcoat and slouch hat, bending his head before 
the sleet on stormy mornings. Sometimes his 
cousin, Mrs. Banister, could find herself warranted 
by circumstances to invite him to dine with her. 
Once she received from a country friend a present 
of a turkey, and General Lee consented to share it 
with her. She helped him at dinner to a moderate 
portion, for there was only one turkey — like Charles 
Lamb's hare — and many friends! Mrs. Banister 
observed the general laying on one side of his plate 
part of his share of the turkey, and she regretted 
his loss of appetite. " Madam," he explained, 
" Colonel Taylor is not well, and I should be glad 
to be permitted to take this to him." 

After an unusually mild season, John bethought 
himself of the fishes in the pond and streams, but 
not a fishhook was for sale in Richmond or Peters- 
burg. He contrived, out of a cunning arrangement 
of pins, to make hooks, and sallied forth with my 
boys. But the water was too cold, or the fish had 
been driven down-stream by the firing. The 
usual resource of the sportsman with an empty 
creel — a visit to the fishmonger — -was quite out 
of the question. There was no fishmonger any 

Under these circumstances you may imagine my 
sensation at receiving the following note : — 

" My dear Mrs. Pryor : General Lee has been hon- 
ored by a visit from the Hon. Thomas Connolly, Irish 
M.P. from Donegal. 

236 My Day 

" He ventures to request you will have the kindness to 
give Mr. Connolly a room in your cottage, if this can be 
done without inconvenience to yourself." 

Certainly I could give Mr. Connolly a room ; 
but just as certainly I could not feed him! The 
messenger who brought me the note hastily re- 
assured me. He had been instructed to say that 
Mr. Connolly would mess with General Lee. I 
turned Mr. Connolly's room over to John, who 
soon became devoted to his service. The M.P. 
proved a most agreeable guest, a fine-looking Irish 
gentleman with an irresistibly humorous, cheery 
fund of talk. He often dropped in at our biscuit 
toasting, and assured us that we were better pro- 
vided than the commander-in-chief. 

"You should have seen ' Uncle Robert's' dinner 
to-day, madam ! He had two biscuits, and he gave 
me one." 

Another time Mr. Connolly was in high feather. 

" We had a glorious dinner to-day ! Somebody 
sent c Uncle Robert' a box of sardines." 

General Lee, however, was not forgotten. On 
fine mornings quite a procession of little negroes, 
in every phase of raggedness, used to pass my door, 
each one bearing a present from the farmers' wives 
of buttermilk in a tin pail for General Lee. The 
army was threatened with scurvy, and buttermilk, 
hominy, and every vegetable that could be obtained 
was sent to the hospital. 

Mr. Connolly interested himself in my boys' 
Latin studies. 

My Day 237 

" I am going home," he said, " and tell the 
English women what I have seen here: two boys 
reading Caesar while the shells are thundering, and 
their mother looking on without fear." 

" I am too busy keeping the wolf from my door," 
I told him, " to concern myself with the thunder- 

The wolf was no longer at the door ! He had 
entered and had taken up his abode at the fireside. 
Besides what I could earn with my needle, I had 
only my father's army ration to rely upon. My 
faithful John foraged right and left, and I had 
reason to doubt the wisdom of inquiring too closely 
as to the source of an occasional half-dozen eggs or 
small bag of corn. This last he would pound on a 
wooden block for hominy. Meal was greatly prized 
for the reason that wholesomer bread could be made 
of it than of wheaten flour, — meal was no longer pro- 
curable, but we were never altogether without flour. 
As I have said, we might occasionally purchase for 
five dollars the head of a bullock from the com- 
missary, every other part of the animal being avail- 
able for army rations. By self-denial on our own 
part we fondly hoped we could support our army 
and at last win our cause. We were not, at the time, 
fully aware of the true state of things in the army. 
Our men were so depleted from starvation that the 
most trifling wound would end fatally. Gangrene 
would supervene, and then nothing could be done to 
prevent death. Long before this time, at Vicksburg, 
Admiral Porter found that many a dead soldier's 
haversack yielded nothing but a handful of parched 

238 My Day 

corn. We were now enduring a sterner siege. The 
month of January brought us sleet and storm. Our 
famine grew sterner every day. Seasons of bitter 
cold weather would find us without wood to burn, 
and we had no other fuel. I commenced cutting 
down the choice fruit trees in the grounds, — and 
General Wilcox managed to send me a load of 
rails from a fence, hitherto spared by the soldiers. 
Poor little Rose could yield only one cupful of 
milk, so small was her ration ; but we never thought 
of turning the faithful animal into beef. The offi- 
cers in my yard spared her something every day 
from the food of their horses. 

The days were so dark and cheerless, the news 
from the armies at a distance so discouraging, it was 
hard to preserve a cheerful demeanor for the sake 
of the family. And now began the alarming tidings, 
every morning, of the desertions during the night. 
General Wilcox wondered how long his brigade 
would hold together at the rate of fifty desertions 
every twenty-four hours! 

The common soldier had enlisted, not to establish 
the right of secession, not for love of the slave, — 
he had no slaves, — but simply to resist the invasion 
of the South by the North, simply to prevent sub- 
jugation. The soldier of the rank and file was not 
always intellectual or cultivated. He cared little for 
politics, less for slavery. He did care, however, for 
his own soil, his own little farm, his own humble 
home, and he was willing to fight to drive the in- 
vader from it. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclama- 
tion did not stimulate him in the least. The negro, 

My Day 239 

free or slave, was of no consequence to him. His 
quarrel was a sectional one, and he fought for his 

In any war the masses rarely trouble themselves 
about the merits of the quarrel. Their pugnacity 
and courage are aroused and stimulated by the en- 
thusiasm of their comrades or by their own personal 
wrongs and perils. 

Now, in January, 1865, the common soldier per- 
ceived that the cause was lost. He could read its 
doom in the famine around him, in the faces of his 
officers, in tidings from abroad. His wife and chil- 
dren were suffering. His duty was now to them ; 
so he stole away in the darkness, and in infinite 
danger and difficulty found his way back to his own 
fireside. He deserted, but not to the enemy. 

But what shall we say of the soldier who remained 
unflinching at his post knowing the cause was lost 
for which he was called to meet death? Heroism 
can attain no loftier height than this. Very few of 
the intelligent men of our army had the slightest 
hope, at the end, of our success. Some, like Mr. 
William C. Rives, had none at the beginning. 

One night all these things weighed more heavily 
than usual upon me, — the picket firing, the famine, 
the military executions, the dear one " sick and in 
prison." I sighed audibly, and my son Theodorick, 
who slept near me, asked the cause, adding, " Why 
can you not sleep, dear mother ? " 

"Suppose," I replied, "you repeat something for 

He at once commenced, " Tell me not in mourn- 

240 My Day 

ful numbers " — and repeated the " Psalm of Life." 
I did not sleep ; those were brave words, but not 
strong enough for the situation. 

He paused, and presently his young voice broke 
the stillness : — 

" Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within 
me, bless His holy name" — going on to the end 
of the beautiful psalm of adoration and faith which 
nineteen centuries have decreed to be in very truth a 
Psalm of Life. 

That General Lee was acutely sensible of our con- 
dition was proved by an interview with General 
Gordon. Before daylight, on the id of March, 
General Lee sent for General Gordon, who was with 
his command at a distant part of the line. Upon 
arriving, General Gordon was much affected by see- 
ing General Lee standing at the mantel in his room, 
his head bowed on his folded arms. The room was 
dimly lighted by a single lamp, and a smouldering 
fire was dying on the hearth. The night was cold, 
and General Lee's room chill and cheerless. 

" I have sent for you, General Gordon," said 
General Lee, with a dejected voice and manner, " to 
make known to you the condition of our affairs and 
consult with you as to what we had best do. I have 
here reports sent in from my officers to-night. I 
find I have under my command, of all arms, hardly 
forty-five thousand men. These men are starving. 
They are already so weakened as to be hardly 
efficient. Many of them have become desperate, 
reckless, and disorderly as they have never been 

My Day 241 

" It is difficult to control men who are suffering 
for food. They are breaking open mills, barns, and 
stores in search of it. Almost crazed from hunger, 
they are deserting in large numbers and going home. 
My horses are in equally bad condition. The 
supply of horses in the country is exhausted. It 
has come to be just as bad for me to have a horse 
killed as a man. I cannot remount a cavalryman 
whose horse dies. General Grant can mount ten 
thousand men in ten days and move round your 
flank. If he were to send me word to-morrow that 
I might move out unmolested, I have not enough 
horses to move my artillery. He is not likely to send 
me any such message, although he sent me word 
yesterday that he knew what I had for breakfast 
every morning. I sent him word I did not think 
that this could be so, for if he did he would surely 
send me something better. 

" But now let us look at the figures. As I said, I 
have forty-five thousand starving men. Hancock 
has eighteen thousand at Winchester. To oppose 
him I have not a single vidette. Sheridan, with his 
terrible cavalry, has marched unmolested and un- 
opposed along the James, cutting the railroads and 
the canal. Thomas is coming from Knoxville with 
thirty thousand well-equipped troops, and I have, to 
oppose him, not more than three thousand in all. 
Sherman is in North Carolina with sixty-five thou- 
sand men. So I have forty-five thousand poor fel- 
lows in bad condition opposed to one hundred and 
sixty thousand strong and confident men. These 
forces added to General Grant's make over a quarter 

242 My Day 

of a million. To prevent them all from uniting to 
my destruction, and adding Johnston's and Beaure- 
gard's men, I can oppose only sixty thousand men. 
They are growing weaker every day. Their suffer- 
ings are terrible and exhausting. My horses are 
broken down and impotent. General Grant may press 
around our flank any day and cut off our supplies." 

As a result of this conference General Lee went 
to Richmond to make one more effort to induce our 
government to treat for peace. It was on his re- 
turn from an utterly fruitless errand that he said : — 

" I am a soldier! It is my duty to obey orders;" 
and the final disastrous battles were fought. 

It touches me to know now that it was after this 
that my beloved commander found heart to turn 
aside and bring me comfort. No one knew better 
than he all I had endeavored and endured, and my 
heart blesses his memory for its own sake. At this 
tremendous moment, when he had returned from 
his fruitless mission to Richmond, when the attack 
on Fort Steadman was impending, when his slender 
line was confronted by Grant's ever increasing host, 
stretching twenty miles, when the men were so 
starved, so emaciated, that the smallest wound meant 
death, when his own personal privations were be- 
yond imagination, General Lee could spend half an 
hour for my consolation and encouragement. 

Cottage Farm being on the road between head- 
quarters and Fort Gregg, — the fortification which 
held General Grant in check at that point, — I saw 
General Lee almost daily going to this work or to 
Battery 45. 

My Day 243 

I was, as was my custom, sewing in my little par- 
lor one morning, about the middle of March, when 
an orderly entered, saying: — 

" General Lee wishes to make his respects to Mrs. 
Pryor." The general was immediately behind him. 
His face was lighted with the anticipation of telling 
me his good news. With the high-bred courtesy 
and kindness which always distinguished his manner, 
he asked kindly after my welfare, and taking my 
little girl in his arms, began gently to break his news 
to me : — 

" How long, madam, was General Pryor with me 
before he had a furlough ? " 

" He never had one, I think," I answered. 

" Well, did I not take good care of him until we 
camped here so close to you ? " 

" Certainly," I said, puzzled to know the drift of 
these preliminaries. 

" I sent him home to you, I remember," he con- 
tinued, " for a day or two, and you let the Yankees 
catch him. Now he is coming back to be with you 
again on parole until he is exchanged. You must 
take better care of him in future." 

I was too much overcome to do more than stam- 
mer a few words of thanks. 

Presently he added, "What are you going to say 
when I tell the general that in all this winter you 
have never once been to see me ? " 

" Oh, General Lee," I answered, " I had too much 
mercy to join in your buttermilk persecution ! " 

" Persecution ! " he said ; " such things keep us 
alive ! Last night, when I reached my headquarters, 

244 My Day 

I found a card on my table with a hyacinth pinned 
to it, and these words : c For General Lee, with a 
kiss ! ' Now," he added, tapping his breast, " I 
have here my hyacinth and my card — and I mean 
to find my kiss ! " 

He was amused by the earnest eyes of my little 
girl, as she gazed into his face. 

" They have a wonderful liking for soldiers," he 
said. " I knew one little girl to give up all her 
pretty curls willingly that she might look like Cus- 
tis ! * They might cut my hair like Custis's,' she 
said. Custis ! whose shaven head does not improve 
him in any eyes but hers." 

His manner was the perfection of repose and sim- 
plicity. As he talked with me, I remembered that 
I had heard of this singular calmness. Even at 
Gettysburg and at the explosion of the crater he 
had evinced no agitation or dismay. I did not 
know then, as I do now, that nothing had ever 
approached the anguish of this moment, when he 
had come to say an encouraging and cheering 
word to me, after abandoning all hope of the 
success of the cause. 

After talking awhile and sending a kind message 
to my husband, to greet him on his return, he rose, 
walked to the window, and looked over the fields, — 
the fields through which, not many days afterward, 
he dug his last trenches ! 

I was moved to say, "You only, General, can tell 
me if it is worth my while to put the ploughshare 
into those fields." 

"Plant your seeds, madam," he replied; sadly 

My Day 245 

adding, after a moment, " The doing it will be some 

I was answered. I thought then he had little 
hope. I now know he had none. 

He had already, as we have seen, remonstrated 
against further resistance — against the useless shed- 
ding of blood. His protest had been unheeded. 
It remained for him now to gather his forces for en- 
durance to the end. 

Twenty days afterward his headquarters were in 
ashes ; he had led his famished army across the 
Appomattox, and telling them they had done their 
duty and had nothing to regret, he had bidden them 
farewell forever. 


THE day drew near when the husband and father 
of our little family was to be restored to his own 
home and his own people. Paroled, and not 
yet exchanged, we could hope for a brief visit from him. 
John was in a great state over the possibilities of a 
welcoming banquet. Peas, beans, flour, sorghum 
molasses, — these in small quantity he might hope 
to command. A nourishing soup could be made 
of the peas, and if only he could " find " an egg, 
he could mix it with sorghum and bake it in an un- 
shortened open crust for dessert. But the meat 
course ! 

Just at this critical moment a hapless duck ven- 
tured too near John's acquisitive hand while he was 
on one of his prowling expeditions. This he per- 
fectly roasted and presented to me to be sacredly 
kept until the general's arrival. Accordingly I hid 
it away in a small safe with wire-netting doors, and 
judiciously covered it over with a cloth lest some 
child or visitor should be led into irresistible temp- 

We were all expectation and excitement when a 
lady drove up and asked for shelter, as she had 
been " driven in from the lines." Shelter and lodg- 
ing I could give by spreading quilts on the parlor 
floor — but, alas, my duck! Must my precious 
duck be sacrificed upon the altar of hospitality ? I 


My Day 247 

peeped into the little safe to assure myself that I 
could manage to keep it hidden, and behold, it was 
gone ! Not until next day, when it was placed 
before my husband with a triumphant flourish (our 
unwelcome guest had departed), did I discover that 
John had stolen it ! " Why, there's the duck ! " I 

" 'Course here's the duck ! " said John, respect- 
fully. " Ducks got plenty of sense. They knows 
as well as folks when to hide." 

We found our released prisoner pale and thin, 
but devoutly thankful to be at home. Mr. Con- 
nolly and the officers around us called in the even- 
ing, keenly anxious to hear his story and heartily 
expressing their joy at his release. My friends in 
Washington had wished to send me some presents, 
but my husband declined them, accepting only two 
cans of pineapple. Mr. Connolly sent out for the 
" boys in the yard " and assisted me in dividing the 
fruit into portions, so each one should have a bit. 
It was served on all the saucers and butter plates 
we could find, and Mr. Connolly himself handed 
the tray around, exclaiming, " Oh, lads ! it is just 
the best thing you ever tasted ! " Then each soldier 
brought forth his brier-root and gathered around 
the traveller for his story. His story was a thrill- 
ing one — of his capture, his incarceration, his com- 
rades ; finally of the unexpected result of the efforts 
of his ante-bellum friends, Washington McLean and 
John W. Forney, for his release. 

It was ascertained by these friends in Washington 
that he was detained as hostage for the safety of some 

248 My Day 

Union officer whom the Confederate government 
had threatened to put to death. This situation 
of affairs left General Pryor in a very dangerous 
position. Southern leaders were inclined to take 
revenge upon some prominent Union soldiers 
in their prisons, and Stanton stood ready to take 
counter-revenge upon the body of " Harry Hot- 
spur." Washington McLean, the editor and proprie- 
tor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, had met my husband 
while he was in Congress, and learned " to like and 
love him," as one expressed it. Realizing the 
gravity of his friend's situation, Mr. McLean, hav- 
ing first approached General Grant, who positively 
refused to consider General Pryor's release, resolved 
to appeal to Mr. Stanton. He found Mr. Stanton 
in the library of his own home, with his daughter in 
his arms, and the following conversation ensued : — 

" This is a charming fireside picture, Mr. Secre- 
tary ! I warrant that little lady cares nothing for 
war or the Secretary of War ! She has her father, 
and that fills all her ambition." 

" You never said a truer word, did he, pet ? " 
pressing the curly head close to his bosom. 

" Well, then, Stanton, you will understand my 
errand. There are curly heads down there in old 
Virginia weeping out their bright eyes for a father 
loved just as this pretty baby loves you." 

" Yes, yes ! Probably so," said Stanton. 

"Now — there's Pryor — " 

But before another word could be said, the Sec- 
retary of War pushed the child from his knee and 
thundered : — 

My Day 249 

" He shall be hanged ! Damn him ! " 

But he had reckoned without his host when he 
supposed that Washington McLean would not ap- 
peal from that verdict. Armed with a letter of 
introduction from Horace Greeley, Mr. McLean 
visited Mr. Lincoln. The President remembered 
General Pryor's uniformly generous treatment of 
prisoners who had, at various times, fallen into his 
custody, especially his capture at Manassas of the 
whole camp of Federal wounded, surgeons and 
ambulance corps, and his prompt parole of the 
same. Mr. Lincoln listened attentively, and after 
ascertaining all the facts, issued an order directing 
Colonel Burke, the commander at Fort Lafayette, 
to " deliver Roger A. Pryor into the custody of 
Colonel John W. Forney, Secretary of the Senate, 
to be produced by him whenever required." 

Armed with this order, Mr. McLean visited Fort 
Lafayette, where he found his friend in close con- 
finement in the casemate with other prisoners. Mr. 
McLean immediately secured his release and ac- 
companied him to Washington and to Colonel 
Forney's house. 

As is now well known, even a presidential com- 
mand did not stand in the way of Stanton's ven- 
geance. When he learned of General Pryor's release, 
his rage was unbounded, and he immediately issued 
orders to seize the prisoner wherever found, and 
announced his intention of hanging him, as a re- 
sponse to the threats of the Southern leaders. Colo- 
nel Forney was advised of this condition of affairs, 
and at his request his secretary, John Russell Young, 

250 My Day 

afterwards Minister to China, went to the offices of 
the various Washington newspapers and gave each 
journal a brief account of how General Pryor had 
passed through Washington that evening, and under 
parole had entered into the rebel lines. As a matter 
of fact, he was at that time in Colonel Forney's 
house, and remained there for two more days. 
Stanton, however, was made to believe that his prey 
had escaped him, and therefore abandoned his 

At that time John Y. Beall, a Confederate officer, 
was confined with General Pryor, having been, it 
was supposed, implicated in a conspiracy to set fire 
to hotels and museums in New York, derail and 
fire railroad trains. Young Beall protested inno- 
cence, but finally he was arrested, tried by court- 
martial, and sentenced to be hanged. He belonged 
to an influential Southern family, and was held in 
high esteem south of Mason and Dixon's line. 
Some of the officials of the Confederacy served 
notice on Secretary of War Stanton that if Beall was 
hanged, they would put the rope around the necks 
of a number of prominent Northern soldiers who 
at that time were in their custody. But the stern 
Stanton was relentless, and he only sent back word 
that if the threat was carried into execution, he would 
hang Pryor. Mr. McLean became interested in 
young Beall's fate, and suggested that if General 
Pryor would make a personal appeal in his behalf to 
President Lincoln, his execution might probably be 
prevented. To that end, Mr. McLean telegraphed 
a request to Mr. Lincoln, that he accord General 

My Day 251 

Pryor an interview, to which a favorable response 
was promptly returned. The next evening General 
Pryor, with Mr. McLean and Mr. Forney, called 
at the White House, and were graciously received 
by the President. General Pryor at once opened 
his intercession in behalf of Captain Beall ; but al- 
though Mr. Lincoln evinced the sincerest compassion 
for the young man and an extreme aversion to his 
death, he felt constrained to yield to the assurance 
of General Dix, in a telegram just received, that the 
execution was indispensable to the security of the 
Northern cities. Mr. Lincoln then turned the con- 
versation to the recent conference at Hampton 
Roads, the miscarriage of which he deplored with 
the profoundest sorrow. He said that had the Con- 
federate government agreed to the reestablishment 
of the Union and the abolition of slavery, the people 
of the South might have been compensated for the 
loss of their negroes and would have been protected 
by a universal amnesty, but that Mr. Jefferson 
Davis made the recognition of the Confederacy a 
condition sine qua non of any negotiations. Thus, 
he declared, would Mr. Davis be responsible for 
every drop of blood that should be shed in the 
further prosecution of the war, a futile and wicked 
effusion of blood, since it was then obvious to every 
sane man that the Southern armies must be speedily 
crushed. On this topic he dwelt so warmly and at 
such length that General Pryor inferred that he still 
hoped the people of the South would reverse Mr. 
Davis's action, and would renew the negotiations for 
peace. Indeed, he declared in terms that he could 

252 My Day 

not believe the senseless obstinacy of Mr. Davis 
represented the sentiment of the South. It was ap- 
parent to General Pryor that Mr. Lincoln desired 
him to sound leading men of the South on the sub- 
ject. Accordingly, on the general's return to Rich- 
mond, he did consult with Senator Hunter and 
other prominent men in the Confederacy, but with 
one voice they assured him that nothing could be 
done with Mr. Davis, and that the South had only 
to await the imminent and inevitable catastrophe. 

The inevitable catastrophe marched on apace. 

On the morning of April 1 we were all up early 
that we might prepare and send to Dr. Claiborne's 
hospital certain things we had suddenly acquired. 
An old farmer friend of my husband had loaded a 
wagon with peas, potatoes, dried fruit, hominy, and 
a little bacon, and had sent it as a welcoming present. 
We had been told of the prevalence of scurvy in 
the hospitals, and had boiled a quantity of hominy, 
and also of dried fruit, to be sent with the potatoes 
for the relief of the sick. 

My husband said to me at our early breakfast : — 

" How soundly you can sleep ! The cannon- 
ading was awful last night. It shook the house." 

" Oh, that is only Fort Gregg," I answered. 
" Those guns fire incessantly. I don't consider 
them. You've been shut up in a casemate so long 
you've forgotten the smell of powder." 

Our father, who happened to be with us that 
morning, said : — 

" By the bye, Roger, I went to see General Lee, 
and told him you seemed to be under the impression 

My Day 253 

that if your division moves, you should go along 
with it. The general said emphatically: 'That would 
be violation of his parole, Doctor. Your son surely 
knows he cannot march with the army until he is 
exchanged.' " 

This was a great relief to me, for I had been afraid 
of a different construction. 

After breakfast I repaired to the kitchen to see 
the pails filled for the hospital, and to send Alick 
and John on their errand. 

Presently a message was brought me that I must 
join my husband, who had walked out to the forti- 
fication behind the garden. I found a low earth- 
work had been thrown up during the night still 
nearer our house, and on it he was standing. My 
husband held out his hand and drew me up on the 
breastwork beside him. Negroes were passing, 
wheeling their barrows, containing the spades they 
had just used. Below was a plain, and ambulances 
were collecting and stopping at intervals. Then a 
slender gray line stretched across under cover of the 
first earthwork and the forts. Fort Gregg and 
Battery 45 were belching away with all their might, 
answered by guns all along the line. While we 
gazed on all this, the wood opposite seemed alive, 
and out stepped a division of bluecoats — muskets 
shining and banners flying in the morning sun. 
My husband exclaimed : " My God ! What a 
line ! They are going to fight here right away. 
Run home and get the children in the cellar." 

When I reached the little encampment be- 
hind the house, I found the greatest confusion. 

254 My Day 

Tents were struck, and a wagon was loading 
with them. 

Captain Glover rode up to me and conjured me 
to leave immediately. I reminded him of his 
promise not to allow me to be surprised. 

"We are ourselves surprised," he said; " believe 
me, your life is not safe here a moment." Tapping 
his breast, he continued, " I bear despatches proving 
what I say." 

I ran into the house, and with my two little chil- 
dren I started bareheaded up the road to town. I 
bade the servants remain. If things grew warm, they 
had the cellar, and perhaps their presence would save 
their own goods and mine, should the day go against 
us. The negroes, in any event, would be safe. 

The morning was close and warm, and as we 
toiled up the dusty road, I regretted the loss of my 
hat. Presently I met a gentleman driving rapidly 
from town. It was my neighbor, Mr. Laighton. 

He had removed his wife and little girls to a place 
of safety and was returning for me. He proposed, 
as we were now out of musket range, that I should 
rest with the children under the shade of a tree, and 
he would return to the house to see if he could save 
something — what did I suggest? I asked that he 
would bring a change of clothing for the children 
and my medicine chest. 

As we waited for his return, some terrified horses 
dashed up the road, one with blood flowing from 
his nostrils. When Mr. Laighton finally returned, 
he brought news that he had seen my husband, that 
my boys were safe with him, that all the cooked 

My Day 255 

provisions were spread out for the passing soldiers, 
and that more were in preparation ; also that he had 
promised to take care of me, and to leave the gen- 
eral free to dispense these things judiciously. John 
had put the service of silver into the buggy, and 
Eliza had packed a trunk, for which he was to re- 
turn. This proved to be the French trunk, in which 
Eliza sent a change of clothing. 

When Mr. Laighton asked where he should go 
with us, I had no suggestion to make. Few of my 
friends were in the town, which was filled with ref- 
ugees. My dear Mrs. Aleade or Mr. Charles 
Campbell would, I was sure, shelter us in an extrem- 
ity. I decided to drive slowly through the crowded 
streets, looking out for some sign of lodgings to let. 
Presently we met a man who directed us to an empty 
house, and there, dumping the silver service in the 
front porch, Mr. Laighton left us. About noon I 
had my first news from the seat of war. John and 
Alick appeared, the latter leading Rose by a rope. 
John was to return (he had come to bring me some 
biscuits and my champagne glasses !), but Alick posi- 
tively rebelled. Go back ! No, marm, not if he 
knew his name was Alick. His mammy had never 
borned him to be in no battle! And walking off to 
give Rose a pail of water, he informed her that 
" You'n me, Rose, is the only folks I see anywhar 
'bout here with any sense." 

Neighbors soon discovered us ; and to my joy I 
found that Mrs. Gibson, Mrs. Meade, and Mr. 
Bishop — one of my father's elders — were in their 
own houses, very near my temporary shelter. 

256 My Day 

Our father, I learned afterwards, was with the 
hospital service of his corps, and had been sent to 
the rear. I sent John back to the farm, strictly 
ordering that the flag should be cared for. He told 
me it was safe. He had hidden it under some fence 
rails in the cellar. As to the battle, he had no news, 
except that "Marse Roger is giving away everything 
on the earth. All the presents from the farmer will 
go in a little while." 

In the evening my little boys, envoys from their 
father, came in with confidential news. The day 
had gone against us. General Lee was holding the 
line through our garden. The city would be sur- 
rendered at midnight. Their father was giving all 
our stores of food and all his Confederate money to 
the private soldiers, a fact which evidently impressed 
them most of all. 

I have told the thrilling story of the ensuing events 
elsewhere. Having been compelled to repeat much, 
I must now hasten on, — only briefly recording my 
husband's recapture, release on parole, and continued 
recapture every time the occupying troops were re- 
placed by a new division. 

The day the Federals entered the town I saw our 
precious banner borne in triumph past the door. 
The dear Petersburg women had made it and given 
it to their brave defender ; it was coming back, amid 
shouts and songs of derision, a captive ! As the 
troops passed they sang, to their battle hymn : — 

"John Brown's body is a-mouldering in the ground, 
As we go marching on ! 
Oh, glory hallelujah, 

As we go marching on ! " 

My Day 257 

And down the line the tune was caught by advancing 
soldiers: — 

" Hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree, 
As we go marching on. 
Oh, glory hallelujah," etc, 

" Ole Uncle Frank's at de bottom of dis business," 
said Alick ; and alas ! we had reason to believe 
that the wily old gentleman — whom we had left 
hiding in the cellar and imploring " for Gawd's sake, 
Jinny, bring me a gode o' water " — had purchased 
favor by revealing the hiding-place of our banner. 

Early that morning German soldiers had rushed 
into our house demanding prisoners. My husband 
was marched off to headquarters, and the parole 
written by Mr. Lincoln himself on a visiting-card 
respected. The morning was filled with exciting 
incidents. Our English " colonel " came early : 
"To say good-by, madam! It's a shame! — and 
all just a question of bread and cheese — nothing 
but bread and cheese! " 

We sat all day in the front room, watching the 
splendidly equipped host as it marched by on its 
way to capture Lee. It soon became known that we 
were there. Within the next few days we had calls 
from old Washington friends. Among others my 
husband was visited by Elihu B. Washburne and Sena- 
tor Henry Wilson, afterward Vice-president of the 
United States with General Grant. These paid long 
visits and talked kindly and earnestly of the South. 

Mr. Lincoln soon arrived and sent for my hus- 
band. But General Pryor excused himself, saying 
that he was a paroled prisoner, that General Lee was 

258 My Day 

still in the field, and that he could hold no confer- 
ence with the head of the opposing army. 

The splendid troops passed continually. Our 
hearts sank within us. We had but one hope — 
that General Lee would join Joseph E. Johnston and 
find his way to the mountains of Virginia, those 
ramparts of nature which might afford protection 
until we could rest and recruit. 

Intelligence of the death of President Lincoln 
reached Petersburg on the 17th of April. As he had 
been with us but a few days before, manifestly in 
perfect health and in all the glow and gladness of 
the triumph of the Federal arms, the community 
was unspeakably shocked by the catastrophe. That 
he fell by the hand of an assassin, and that the deed 
was done by a Confederate and avowedly in the in- 
terest of the Confederate cause, were circumstances 
which distressed us with an apprehension that the 
entire South would be held responsible for the atro- 
cious occurrence. The day after the tragic news 
reached us, the people of Petersburg in public meet- 
ing adopted resolutions framed by General Pryor, 
deploring the President's death and denouncing his 
assassination, — resolutions which gave expression 
to the earnest and universal sentiment of Virginia. 
I question if, in any quarter of the country, the vir- 
tues of Abraham Lincoln — as exhibited in his spirit 
of forgiveness and forbearance — are more revered 
than in the very section which was the battle-ground 
of the fight for independence of his rule. It is cer- 
tainly my husband's conviction that had he lived, the 
South would never have suffered the shame and sor- 
row of the carpet-bag regime. 


Y condition during the military occupation 
of Petersburg was extremely unpleasant. I 
was alone with my children when General 
Sheridan demanded my house for an adjutant's 
office. Such alarming rumors had reached us of 
outrages committed by marauding parties in the 
neighboring counties that my husband had obtained 
an extension of his parole to visit his sisters in Not- 
toway County. His first information of them was 
from finding their garments in a wagon driven by 
German soldiers, who, challenged by the barrel of 
a pistol, made good their escape, leaving their 
plunder behind them. The fate of his sisters was 
not discovered for some time. They had found 
means to hide when the thieves appeared. 

General Sheridan, meanwhile, kept me prisoner in 
two rooms for ten days, and very trying was the ex- 
perience of those days. He called to " make his 
respects " to me the day he left, and although I re- 
ceived him courteously he was fully aware that I 
appreciated the indignity he had put upon me and 
the record he had made before I met him. He 
thanked me for the patience with which I had en- 
dured the ceaseless noise, tramping, and confusion, 
night and day, of the adjutant's office, and apolo- 
gized for the policy he had adopted all through the 


260 My Day 

"It was the best thing to do," he informed me. 
" The only way to stamp out this rebellion was to 
handle it without gloves." 

I made no answer. " The mailed hand might 
crush the women and babes," I thought, " but never, 
never kill the spirit ! " 

However, they departed at last — leaving me a 
huge gas-bill to pay and a house polluted with dirt 
and dust. My husband, still a paroled prisoner, at 
the end of his leave of absence returned to me and 
reported to the authorities. 

We had made the acquaintance of General Warren, 
who had been superseded by Sheridan and was now 
without a command. We grew very fond of him. 
He spent many hours with us. Tactful, sympa- 
thetic, and kind, he never grieved or offended us. 
One evening he silently took his seat. Presently he 
said : — 

" I have news which will be painful to you. It 
hurts me to tell you, but I think you had rather 
hear it from me than from a stranger — General Lee 
has surrendered." 

It was an awful blow to us. All was over. All 
the suffering, bloodshed, death — all for nothing ! 

General Johnston's army was surrendered to 
General Sherman in North Carolina on April 26. 
The banner which had led the armies of the South 
through fire and blood to victory, to defeat, in times 
of starvation, cold, and friendlessness ; the banner 
that many a husband and lover had waved aloft on 
a forlorn hope until it fell from his lifeless hands ; 
the banner found under the dying boy at Gettysburg, 

My Day 261 

who had smilingly refused assistance lest it be dis- 
covered, — the banner of a thousand histories was 
furled forever, with none so poor to do it reverence. 

My dear general was not free until Johnston sur- 
rendered. His flag was still in the field, but he was 
allowed to go to Richmond, twenty miles away, to seek 
work of some kind to meet our present necessities. 
My servants came in from Cottage Farm, and every 
one begged to remain and serve me "for the good " I 
had " already done them," but this, of course, I could 
not permit. My faithful John protested passion- 
ately against accepting his freedom, but I was firm 
in demanding he should return to his father in Nor- 
folk. He had earned five dollars in United States 
money ; I had five more which my little boys had 
gained in a small cigar speculation. This I gave 

" Now don't let me see you here to-morrow, John. 
Write to me from Norfolk." 

The next morning he was gone, and I had a grate- 
ful letter from his old father, who expressed, how- 
ever, some anxiety about his " army habits." 

We had soon occasion to regret the absence of the 
protecting soldiers. Almost immediately a tall, 
lantern-jawed young fellow with a musket on his 
shoulder marched in. I was alone, and he walked 
up to me with a threatening aspect. 

" What do you want here ? " I demanded. 

" I want whiskey — d'ye hear ? Whiskey ! " 

" You'll not get it ! " 

" Wall, I rayther guess you'll have to scare it up ! 
I'll search the house." 

262 My Day 

" Search away," I blithely requested him. " Search 
away, and I'll call the provost guard to help you ! " 

He turned and marched out. At the door he 
sent me a Parthian arrow. 

" Wall ! You've got a damned tongue in yer 
head ef you ain't got no whiskey." 

I repeat this story because my husband has always 
considered it a good one — too good to be forgotten ! 

The time now came when I must draw rations 
for my family. I could not do this by proxy. I 
was required to present my request in person. As 
I walked through the streets in early morning, I 
thought I had never known a lovelier day. How 
could nature spread her canopy of blossoming mag- 
nolia and locust as if nothing had happened ? How 
could the vine over the doorway of my old home 
load itself with snowy roses, how could the birds 
sing, how could the sun rise, as if such things as 
these could ever again gladden our broken hearts ? 

My dear little sons understood they were to es- 
cort me everywhere, so we presented ourselves to- 
gether at the desk of the government official and 
announced our errand. 

" Have you taken the oath of allegiance, madam ? " 
inquired that gentleman. 

" No, sir." I was quite prepared to take the 

The young officer looked at me seriously for a 
moment, and said, as he wrote out the order : — 

" Neither will I require it of you, madam ! " 

I was in better spirits after this pleasant incident, 
and calling to Alick, I bade him arm himself with 

My Day 263 

the largest basket he could find and take my order 
to the commissary. 

" We are going to have all sorts of good things," 
I told him, " fresh meat, fruit, vegetables, and 

When the boy returned, he presented a drooping 
figure and a woebegone face. My first unworthy 
suspicion suggested his possible confiscation of my 
stores for drink, — for which my poor Alick had a 
weakness, — but he soon explained. 

" I buried that ole stinkin' fish ! I wouldn't 
bring it in your presence. An' here's the meal they 
give me." 

Hairy caterpillars were jumping through the 
meal ! I turned to my table and wrote : — 

" Is the commanding general aware of the nature of the 
ration issued this day to the destitute women of Peters- 
burg ? 

[Signing myself] " Mrs. Roger A. Pryor." 

This I gave to Alick, with instructions to present 
it, with the meal, to General HartsufF. 

Alick returned with no answer ; but in a few min- 
utes a tall orderly stood before me, touched his cap, 
and handed me a note. 

" Major-General HartsufF is sorry he cannot make right 
all that seems so wrong. He sends the enclosed. Some 
day General Pryor will repay. 

" George L. Hartsuff, 
" Major-General Commanding." 

The note contained an official slip of paper : — 

264 My Day 

" The Quartermaster and Commissary of the Army of 
the Potomac are hereby ordered to furnish Mrs. Roger A. 
Pryor with all she may demand or require, charging the 
same to the private account of 

" George L. Hartsuff, 
" Major-General Commanding." 

Without the briefest deliberation I wrote and re- 
turned the following reply : — 

" Mrs. Roger A. Pryor is not insensible to the generous 
offer of Major-General Hartsuff, but he ought to have known 
that the ration allowed the destitute women of Petersburg 
must be enough for 

" Mrs. Roger A. Pryor." 

As I sat alone, revolving various schemes for our 
sustenance, — the selling of the precious testimonial 
service (given by the democracy of Virginia after 
my husband's noble fight against "Know-nothing- 
ism"), the possibility of finding occupation for my- 
self, — the jingling of chain harness at the door 
arrested my attention. There stood a handsome 
equipage, from which a very fine lady indeed was 
alighting. She bustled in with her lace-edged hand- 
kerchief to her eyes, and announced herself as Mrs. 
Hartsuff. She was superbly gowned in violet silk, 
and lace, with a tiny fancbon bonnet tied beneath an 
enormous cushion of hair behind, the first of the 
fashionable chignons I had seen, — an arrangement 
called a "waterfall," an exaggeration of the plethoric, 
distended " bun " of the Englishwoman of a few 
years ago. 

My Day 265 

I found myself, all at once, conscious that I must, 
in this lady's eyes, resemble nothing so much as the 
wooden Mrs. Noah, who presides over the animals 
in the children's " Noah's arks." Enormous hoops 
were then in fashion. I had long since been aban- 
doned by mine, and never been able to get my own 
consent to borrow, as others did, from a friendly 
grape-vine. My gown was of chocolate-colored 
calico with white spots. My hair ! I had torn it 
out by the roots when I was delirious at the time of 
the fierce battle of Port Walthall (six miles from 
Petersburg), which I had heard, my senses being 
quickened by fever. 

Mrs. Hartsuff began hurriedly : " Oh, my dear 
lady, we are in such distress at headquarters ! 
George is in despair! You won't let him help you! 
Whatever is he to do ? " 

" I really am grateful to the general," I assured 
her ; "but you see there is no reason he should do 
more for me than for others." 

" Oh, but there is reason. You have suffered 
more than the rest. You have been driven from 
your home ! Your house has been sacked. George 
knows all about you. I have brought a basket for 
you — tea, coffee, sugar, crackers." 

" I cannot accept it, I am sorry." 

" But what are you going to do? Are you 
going to starve? " 

" Very likely," I said, "but somehow I shall not 
very much mind!" 

" Oh, this is too utterly, utterly dreadful ! " said 
the lady as she left the room. 

266 My Day 

The next day the ration was changed. Fresh 
meat, coffee, sugar, and canned vegetables were 
issued to all the women of Petersburg. The first 
morning they were received I met the wife of 
General Weisiger trudging along with a basket. 
"Going for your rations?" I asked her. " No 
indeed! I'm going, with the only five dollars I 
have in the world, to the sutler's! I shall buy, as 
far as it goes, currants, citron, raisins, sugar, butter, 
eggs, brandy, spice — " 

" Mercy ! Are you to open a grocery ? " 

" Not a bit of it" — solemnly — "I'm going to 
make a fruit cake!" 

Less, one might think, should have contented a 
starving woman ! The little incident is characteristic 
of the Southern woman's temperament. She can lie as 
patiently as another under the heel of a hard fate, but 
the moment the heel is lifted she is ready for a festival. 

All the citizens who had been driven away now 
began to return — among them the owners of the 
house I was occupying, and I was compelled to re- 
turn to Cottage Farm. General Hartsuff, to whom 
I applied for a guard, said at once : — 

" It is impossible for you to go to Cottage Farm; 
there are fifty or more negroes on the place. You 
cannot live there." 

" I must ! It is my only shelter." 

" Well, then, I'll allow you a guard, and Mrs. 
Hartsuff had better take you out herself, that is, if 
you can condescend to accept as much." 

I was not aware that Mrs. Hartsuff had entered 
and stood behind me. 

My Day 267 

"And I think, George," she said, " you ought to 
give Mrs. Pryor a horse and cart in place of her 
own that were stolen." Before my conscience 
could strengthen itself to protest that I had not 
owned a horse and cart, the general exclaimed : " All 
right, all right ! Madam, you will find the guard at 
your door when you arrive. You go this evening ? 
All right — good morning." 

Mrs. Hartsuff duly appeared in the late afternoon 
with an ambulance and four horses, and we departed 
in fine style. She was very cheery and agreeable, 
and made me promise to let her come often to see 
me. As we were galloping along in state, we 
passed a line of weary-looking dusty Confederate 
soldiers, limping along, on their way to their homes. 
They stood aside to let us pass. I was cut to the 
heart at the spectacle. Here was I, accepting the 
handsome equipage of the invading commander — I, 
who had done nothing, going on to my comfort- 
able home ; while they, poor fellows, who had borne 
long years of battle and starvation, were mournfully 
returning on foot, to find, perhaps, no home to shel- 
ter them. " Never again," I said to myself, " shall 
this happen ! If I cannot help, I can at least 
suffer with them." 

But when I reached Cottage Farm, I found a home 
that no soldier, however forlorn, could have en- 
vied me. A scene of desolation met my eyes. 
The earth was ploughed and trampled, the grass and 
flowers were gone, the carcasses of six dead cows 
lay in the yard, and filth unspeakable had gathered 
in the corners of the house. The evening air 

268 My Day 

was heavy with the odor of decaying flesh. As the 
front door opened, millions of flies swarmed forth. 

" If this were I," said Mrs. HartsufF, as she 
gathered her skirts as closely around her as her 
hoops would permit, " I should fall across this 
threshold and die." 

" I shall not fall," I said proudly ; " I shall stand 
in my lot." 

Within was dirt and desolation. Pieces of fat 
pork lay on the floors, molasses trickled from 
the library shelves, where bottles lay uncorked. 
Filthy, malodorous tin cans were scattered on the 
floors. Nothing, not even a tin dipper to drink 
out of the well, was left in the house, except one 
chair out of which the bottom had been cut and 
one bedstead fastened together with bayonets. 
Picture frames were piled against the wall. I 
eagerly examined them. Every one was empty. 
One family portrait of an old lady was hanging on 
the wall with a sabre cut across her face. 

To my great joy Aunt Jinny appeared, full of 
sympathy and resource. She gathered us into her 
kitchen while she swept the cleanest room for us 
and spread quilts upon the floor. Later in the 
evening an ambulance from Mrs. HartsufF drove 
up. She had sent me a tin box of bread and but- 
ter sandwiches, some tea, an army cot, and army 

The guard, a great tall fellow, came to me for 
orders. I felt nervous at his presence and wished 
I had not brought him. I directed him to watch 
all night at the road side of the house, while I would 

My Day 269 

sit up and keep watch in the opposite direction. 
The children soon slept upon the floor. 

As the night wore on, I grew extremely anxious 
about the strange negroes. Aunt Jinny thought 
there were not more than fifty. They had filled 
every outhouse except the kitchen. Suppose they 
should overpower the guard and murder us all ! 

Everything was quiet. I had not the least dis- 
position to sleep — thinking, thinking of all the old 
woman had told me : of the sacking of the house, of 
the digging of the cellar in search of treasure, of the 
torch that had twice been applied to the house and 
twice withdrawn because some officer wanted the 
shaded dwelling for a temporary lodging. Presently 
I was startled by a shrill scream from the kitchen, a 
door opened suddenly and shut, and a voice cried : 
" Thank Gawd ! Thank Gawd A'mighty ! " Then 
all was still. 

Was this a signal ? I held my breath and 
listened, then softly rose, closed the shutters and 
fastened them, crept to the door, and bolted it in- 
side. I might defend my children till the guard 
could come. 

Evidently he had not heard ! He was probably 
sleeping the sleep of an untroubled conscience on 
the bench in the front porch. And with untroubled 
consciences my children were sleeping. It was so 
dark in the room I could not see their faces, but I 
could touch them, and push the wet locks from 
their brows, as they lay in the close and heated 

I resumed my watch at the window, pressing my 

270 My Day 

face close to the slats of the shutters. A pale half- 
moon hung low in the sky, turning its averted face 
from a suffering world. At a little distance I 
could see the freshly made soldier's grave which 
Alick had discovered and reported. A heavy rain 
had fallen in the first hours of the night, and a stiff 
arm and hand now protruded from the shallow 
grave. To-morrow I would reverently cover the 
appealing arm, be it clad in blue or in gray, and 
would mark the spot. Now, as I sat with my 
fascinated gaze upon it, I thought of the tens of 
thousands, of the hundreds of thousands of up- 
turned faces beneath the green sod of old Virginia. 
Strong in early manhood, grave, high-spirited men 
of genius, men whom their country had educated 
for her own defence in time of peril, — they had died 
because that country could devise in her wisdom no 
better means of settling a family quarrel than the 
wholesale slaughter of her sons by the sword. And 
now? "Not until the heavens be no more shall 
they awake nor be raised out of their sleep." 

And then, as I sorrowed for their early death in 
loneliness and anguish, I remembered the white- 
robed souls beneath the altar of God, — the souls 
that had " come out of great tribulation," and 
because they had thus suffered "they shall hunger 
no more, neither thirst any more ; . . . and God shall 
wipe away all tears from their eyes." 

And then, as the pale, distressful moon sank be- 
hind the trees, and the red dawn streamed up from 
the east, the Angel of Hope, who had "spread her 
white wings and sped her away " for a little season, 

My Day 271 

returned. And Hope held by the hand an angel 
stronger than she, who bore to me a message: " In 
the world ye have tribulations ; but be of good 
cheer ; I have overcome the world." 

The sun was rising when I saw my good old 
friend emerge from her kitchen, and I opened the 
shutters to greet her. She had brought me a cup 
of delicious coffee, and was much distressed because 
I had not slept. Had I heard anything? 

" 'Course I know you was bleeged to hear," said 
Aunt Jinny, as she bustled over the children. 
" That was Sis' Winny ! She got happy in the 
middle of the night, an' Gawd knows what she 
would have done if Frank hadn't ketched hold 
of her and pulled her back in the kitchen ! Frank 
an' me is pretty nigh outdone an' discouraged 'bout 
Sis' Winny. She prays constant all day ; but Gawd 
A'mighty don't count on being bothered all night. 
Ain't He 'ranged for us all to sleep, an' let Him 
have a little peace ? Sis' Winny must keep her 
happiness to herself, when folks is trying to git some 
res . 

The guard now came to my window to say he 
" guessed " he'd " have to put on some more harness. 
Them blamed niggers refused to leave. They might 
change their minds when they saw the pistols." 

" Oh, you wouldn't shoot, would you ? " I said 
in great distress. " Call them all to the back door 
and let me speak with them." I found myself in 
the presence of some seventy-five negroes, men, 
women, and children, all with upturned faces, keenly 
interested in what I should say to them. 

272 My Day 

I talked to them kindly and explained my pres- 
ence, asking them to remain, if they would help 
clean the yard, with the result that Abram and 
Beverly, two old men who had known my general 
in his boyhood, pledged themselves to stay with me 
on the terms I suggested. 

To my great joy, my dear husband returned from 
Richmond. There was no hope there for lucrative 
occupation. He had no profession. He had for- 
gotten all the little law he had learned at the uni- 
versity. He had been an editor, diplomat, politician, 
and soldier, and distinguished himself in all four. 
These were now closed to him forever ! There 
seemed to be no room for a rebel in all the world. 


WE found it almost impossible to take up our 
lives again. All the cords binding us to the 
past were severed, beyond the hope of re- 
union. We sat silently looking out on a landscape 
marked here and there by chimneys standing sen- 
tinel over blackened heaps, where our neighbors 
had made happy homes. Only one remained, Mr. 
Green's, beyond a little ravine across the road. 

We had, fortunately, no inclination to read. A 
few books had been saved, only those for which we 
had little use. A soldier walked in one day with a 
handsome volume which Jefferson Davis, after in- 
scribing his name in it, had presented to the general. 
The soldier calmly requested the former owner to 
be kind enough to add to the value of the volume 
by writing beneath the inscription his own auto- 
graph, and his request granted, walked off with it 
under his arm. " He has been at some trouble," 
said my husband, " and he had as well be happy if I 
cannot ! " 

As the various brigades moved away from our 
neighborhood, a few plain articles of furniture that 
had been taken from the house were restored to 
us, but nothing handsome or valuable, no books 
nor, pictures, — just a few chairs and tables. I had 
furnished an itemized list of all the articles we had 
lost, with only this result. 

T 273 

274 My Day 

We had news after a while of our blooded mare, 
Lady Jane. A letter enclosing her photograph came 
from a New England officer: — 

« To Mr. Pryor, 

" Dear Sir : A very fine mare belonging to you came into 
my camp near Richmond and is now with me. It would 
add much to her value if I could get her pedigree. Kindly 
send it at your earliest convenience, and oblige, 

" Yours truly, 


" P.S. The mare is in good health, as you will doubtless 
be glad to know." 

Disposed as my general was to be amiable, this 
was a little too much ! The pedigree was not sent, 
but later the amiable owner of Lady Jane sent her 
photograph. Also his own — on her back. 

A great number of tourists soon began to pass our 
house on their way to visit the localities near us, 
now become historic. They frequently called upon 
us, claiming some common acquaintance. We could 
not but resent this. Their sympathetic attitude of- 
fended us, sore and proud as we were. 

We were perfectly aware that they wished to see us, 
and not to gain, as they affected, information about 
the historic localities on the farm. Still less did 
they desire ignobly to triumph over us. A boy, 
when he tears off the wings of a fly, is much inter- 
ested in observing its actions, not that he is cruel — 
far from it ! He is only curious to see how the 
creature will behave under very disadvantageous 

My Day 275 

One day a clergyman called, with a card of intro- 
duction from Mrs. HartsufF, who had, I imagine, 
small discernment as regards clergymen. This one 
was a smug little man, sleek, unctuous, and trim, 
with Pecksniffian self-esteem oozing out of every 
pore of his face. 

" Well, madam," he commenced, " I trust I find 
you lying meekly under the chastening rod of the 
Lord. I trust you can say ' it is good I was 
afflicted.' " 

Having no suitable answer just ready, I received 
his pious exhortation in silence. One can always 
safely do this with a clergyman. 

" There are seasons," continued the good man, 
" when chastisement must be meted out to the trans- 
gressor; but if borne in the right spirit, the rod may 
blossom with blessings in the end." 

A little more of the same nature wrung from me 
the query, " Are there none on the other side who 
need the rod ? " 

"Oh — well, now — my dear lady! You must 
consider ! You were in the wrong in this unhappy 
contest, or, I should say, this most righteous 

" Vcb victis ! " I exclaimed. " Our homes were 
invaded. We are on our own soil ! " 

My reverend brother grew red in the face. Ris- 
ing and bowing himself out, he sent me a Parthian 
arrow : — 

" No thief e'er felt the halter draw 
With good opinion of the law. ' ' 

276 My Day 

Fortunately my general was absent at the moment. 
Like the Douglas, he had endured much, but — 

" Last and worst, to spirit proud 
To bear the pity of the crowd " — 

this was more than he could endure. 

The suggestive odors within doors could never be 
stifled or cleansed away. Not before October 
could I get my consent to eat a morsel in the house. 
I took my meals under the trees, unless driven by 
the rains to the shelter of the porch. I suffered terri- 
bly for want of occupation. I had no household to 
manage, no garments to mend or make. My little 
Lucy could not bear the sun, and she sat quietly 
beside me all day. I could have made a sun-bonnet 
for her, but I had no fabric, no thimble, needles, 
thread, or scissors. Finally I discovered in the pocket 
of one of my Washington coats my silver card-case 
with Trinity Church on one side and the Capitol at 
Washington on the other, — objects I had now no 
right to hold dear. I made Alick drive me in my 
little farm cart to the sutler's and effected an exchange 
for a small straw " Shaker " bonnet which I am sure 
could have been purchased for less than one dollar. 
Protected with this, the little girl found a play-house 
under the trees. A good old friend, Mr. Kemp, 
invited the boys to accompany him upon relic-hunt- 
ing expeditions to the narrow plain which had divided 
the opposing lines on that fateful April morning 
just three months before. Ropes were fastened 
around extinct shells, and they were hauled in, to 
stand sentinel at the door. The shells were short 

My Day 277 

cylinders, with one pointed end like a candle 
before it is lighted. Numbers of minie balls were 
dug out of the sand. One day Mr. Kemp brought 
in a great curiosity — two bullets welded together, 
having been shot from opposing rifles. 

The sultry days were begun and rounded by hours 
of listless endurance followed by troubled sleep. A 
bag of army " hard-tack " stood in a corner, so the 
children were never hungry. Presently they, too, 
sat around us, too listless to play or talk. A great 
army of large, light brown Norway rats now overran 
the farm. They would walk to the corner before 
our eyes and help themselves to the army ration. 
We never moved a finger to drive them away. 
After a while Alick appeared with an enormous 
black-and-white cat. 

" Dis is jest a lettle mo'n I can stand," said Alick. 
" De Yankees has stole ev'rything, and dug up de 
whole face o' de yearth — and de Jews comes all de 
time and pizens de well, droppin' down chains an' 
grapplin'-irons to see ef we-all has hid silver — but 
I ain' obleedged to stan' sassyness fum dese out- 
landish rats." 

Alick had to surrender. The very first night 
after the arrival of his valiant cat there was a scuffle 
in the room where the crackers were kept, a chair 
was overturned, and a flying cat burst through the 
hall, pursued by three or four huge rats. The cat 
took refuge in a tree, and stealthily descending at 
an opportune moment, stole away and left the field 
to the enemy. 

Of course there could be but one result from this 

278 My Day 

life. Malaria had hung over us for weeks, and now 
one after another of the children lay down upon the 
" pallets " on the floor, ill with fever. Then I suc- 
cumbed and was violently ill. Our only nurse was 
my dear general ; and not in all the years when he 
never shirked a duty, nor lost a march, nor rode on 
his own horse when his men toiled on foot or if 
one failed by the way, nor ever lost one of the 
battles in which he personally led them, — not in all 
those trying times was he nobler, grander than in 
his long and lonely vigils beside his sick family. 
And most nobly did the aged negress, my blessed 
Aunt Jinny, stand by us. My one fevered vision 
was of an ebony idol. 

General and Mrs. Hartsuff were terribly afraid of 
the Southern fevers, but sent us sympathetic mes- 
sages from the gate. But as soon as I could receive 
him, Captain Gregory, the commissary general, sought 
an interview with me. General Hartsuff had sent 
him to say that it was absolutely necessary for Gen- 
eral Pryor to leave Virginia. He had never been 
pardoned. There were men in power who con- 
stantly hinted at punishment and retribution. He 
had been approached by General Hartsuff and ve- 
hemently refused to leave his family. 

"Where, oh, where could he go?" I pleaded. 
" He does think sometimes of New Orleans." 

" Madam," said Captain Gregory, " there is a 
future before your husband. New York is the 
place for him." 

" He will never, never consent to go there," I 

My Day 279 

" Well, then, we must use a little diplomacy. 
Send him by sea to shake off his chills. Mark my 
words — as soon as he registers in New York, friends 
will gather around him. Only send him — and speed- 
ily. I come from General Hartsuff." 

My Theo was listening to this conversation, and 
when Captain Gregory left, he implored me to obey 
him. Without consulting his father the old horse 
General Hartsuff had given me was hitched to the 
little cart, and we set forth to find some broker 
who would lend us a small sum, receiving my watch 
and diamond ring as pledges for repayment. 

After several failures we found an obliging banker 
who lent me, upon my proposed security, three 
hundred dollars. As I left his office my hand 
instinctively sought my little watch to learn the hour. 
It was gone! — pledged to send my general to New 
York. I bought some quinine and ordered my 
husband's tailor to make without delay a suit of 
clothes to replace the threadbare uniform of Confed- 
erate gray. It was difficult to persuade the wearer 
to accept the proposition — which was only for the 
sea voyage in order to break the chills that shook 
him so relentlessly every third day. Nothing was 
farther from my thought or wishes than a permanent 
residence in New York. 


IT was supposed that my husband would be ab- 
sent only a week. The following letter from 
New York explains his delay : — 

" I had intended leaving here yesterday, but our friend, 
General Warren, invited me for dinner Sunday. I find him 
in a handsome house in a fashionable quarter of the city. 
Mrs. Warren inquired kindly about you. She has two 
charming sisters of our Gordon's age. 

" What will you think when I tell you that several 
gentlemen suggest to me to settle here ? Dare I ' then, 
to beard the lion in his den — the Douglas in his hall!' 
Not in his ' hall,' certainly, unless I am very specially in- 
vited by him, but I might in time wrestle with him, in a 
court-room. I have a mind to try it. 'The world is all 
before us where to choose.' I shouldn't like the Douglas 
to find out I have forgotten all the law I ever knew. 
Neither would I like my good old Professor Minor (if he 
reads the N. Y. reports) to make a similar discovery." 

Close upon this letter followed another. 

" I am not yet determined when to return. I was to 
leave this morning, but Mr. Ben Wood of the News has 
requested me to remain a day or two that he might have a 
talk with me. What this means, I am not sure. I con- 
jecture he will propose some connection with his paper. 
By the last of the week you may expect me with you." 

The last of the week found him still in New York. 
Early in October he wrote : — 


My Day 281 

"I have accepted Mr. Wood's proposition for the present. 
The only difficulty I see is the fact that they refuse me a 
pardon. If they learn that I am writing for the News, 
they may send me to keep company with John Mitchell. 
I understand that charges are constantly made against me 
in Washington. Whatever they are, they are false, 
trumped up to serve some sinister purpose. Yet I am re- 
solved not to degrade myself by any abject submission. I 
have never solicited ' pardon,' and I mean to approach them 
with no further overture. 

" I am so glad you liked the box. Don't scold me for 
extravagance. You have suffered long enough for the mere 
decencies of life. I am going to work like a beaver and 
with no other purpose now than to earn a living for my 
dear wife and children. Ambition! The ambition of my 
life is to have my darlings settled in comfort. May God 
assist me in the endeavor ! 

"My room is at 47 West 12th Street. There you 
must send my winter clothes — and we must try, whatever 
is left undone, to send the boys to school." 

But after a week or two he became discouraged at 
the cost of living in New York, and wavered again. 

" I feel I cannot bear a long separation from my dear 
family — my darling little ones. And yet how can I main- 
tain them here ? Is it not a cruel fortune which tears us 
asunder when our delight in each other is about the only 
source of happiness left us in this world ? I shall lose, in 
this hopeless grind, all the elastic energy of my mind. I 
cannot live without you ! Do you advise me to continue 
my connection with the News? Twenty-five dollars a 
week is a pitiful sum, but how can I do better ? If I can 
only procure the comforts of life for my family ! That is 
my only object in life — fame, ambition, office, all these 

282 My Day 

things I have renounced forever. Is it not hard that one 
should be baffled in so reasonable an endeavor ? I can 
leave here at any moment, my connection with the paper 
being that of a mere contributor. I am not at all respon- 
sible for its course, but only for my own articles." 

Early in December my husband wrote me the 
following letter : — 

"I am still the victim of ague and fever — the worst I 
ever suffered. The chill comes on every alternate day, and 
during its continuance — about two hours — I am tortured 
with the most agonizing nausea, followed by fever. Thus 
I spend two days in every week. Dr. Whitehead attends 
me and expects to relieve me, but meanwhile it is very an- 
noying to be so stricken just as one enters the fight. 

"For I have entered the fight! The die is cast — and 
here I mean to remain, ' sink or swim, survive or perish.' 
This is the way it has all come about. 

"Sitting late one night with Mr. Ben Wood in the 
News office, he turned to me and said rather abruptly, 
4 General, why don't you practise law ? You would make 
$10,000 a year.' I answered, c For the best of all 
possible reasons — I am not a lawyer.' He replied, 
' Neither is C, nor T; yet they make $i o,ooo a year.' 

" Of course the idea of my ever making so great a sum 
was too preposterous for a moment's thought. Neverthe- 
less, Mr. Wood pressed the appeal ; and being enforced by 
McMasters of the Freeman's ^Journal, it made an impression 
on my mind. I said nothing to you about it at the time, 
because I had, until within the last few weeks, reached no 
decision in the matter. But just then I received an invita- 
tion from Mr. Luke Cozzens for temporary desk room in 
his office and the use of his library. I have really borrowed 
books and been studying law in my leisure hours ever since 
I came to the city, and I now resolved to make applica- 

My Day 283 

tion for admittance to the Bar! The application was made 
by James T. Brady, the most eminent of our forensic ora- 
tors. I was required to make affidavit of my residence in 
the State, and some other formal facts, but such was my 
ignorance of legal procedure that I was unable to draw the 
affidavit, which Judge Barnard perceiving, he kindly drew 
the paper for me. Thereupon the Hon. John B. Haskins 
— my former associate in Congress — was appointed to 
examine me as to my knowledge of Law. Under his lead 
we went to a restaurant. When seated he proceeded, with 
much solemnity of manner, to 'examine' me. He asked 
me, l What are the essentials of the negotiability of a note ? ' 
This question I was prepared to answer, and did answer to 
his satisfaction. 

" After a 'judicial pause,' he asked gravely, l What will 
you take ? ' 

"This also I was fully prepared to answer — and entirely 
to his satisfaction. 

" He asked me no other question. He was apparently 
satisfied with the good sense of my last answer. We re- 
turned to the Court, and he reported in favor of my appli- 
cation ! 

" Still an insuperable obstacle to my practising was an 
inability to procure an office, for my desk room at Mr. 
Cozzens's was not suitable for my new dignity. This diffi- 
culty has been removed by the offer of Mr. Hughes (an 
English ' sympathizer ') to allow me the use of one of his 
two rooms for the nominal price of $1 a month in 
Tryon Row. Both he and I have learned since that this 
is considered an undesirable locality — a fact of which we 
were ignorant, but here I must remain until I can better 
myself. My room is perfectly bare — a carpetless floor, 
plain uncovered table, and three chairs — one for myself, 
and the others for possible clients. Here I have swung out 
my modest shingle soliciting the patronage of the public. 

284 My Day 

" I have commenced attending the Courts regularly and 
have heard the leading lawyers. I am not vain, as you 
know, but — / am not afraid of them ! But when, when 
shall I have a chance ? The great difficulty in my way is 
the prejudice against ' rebels ' ; and that I am sorry to see 
is not diminishing. I hope to wear it away after a while 
if, meantime, I do not starve. It is my last cast — and I 
am resolved to succeed or perish in the attempt. Several 
New York papers have spoken of my residence here with 
kindness and compliment, but a silly sneer in the Boston 
Post — under which I am fool enough to suffer — cut me 
to the heart, trifling and flippant as it is : c The Rebel Pryor 
has opened an office in New York for the practice of the 
Law, but he has not yet had a rap.' — (R. A. P.). 

" Look now for uninteresting letters. It will be study, 
study, study, ever after this ! I am writing now at night, 
with a languid head. My children — my dear children ! 
How I love them ! God bless them ! " 

He wrote, December 28: — 

" My prospects here had brightened a little with the 
promise of a case that would, in time, have yielded me two 
hundred dollars, but a friendly priest (and he was wise) per- 
suaded the parties to settle out of Court, and so my hopes 
were dashed to the ground. But I am retained, provisionally, 
as counsel for the National Express Company, from which 
I may make something. My thoughts at Christmas in my 
lonely office were with my precious household at Cottage 
Farm. How I regretted my want of money would not 
permit me to send some holiday presents, but we must bear 
these privations till happier days. I longed to go to you — 
but had no money to defray the expense of the trip. 
Dearest Sara, let us endure these trials with all possible 
fortitude. If only you can keep happy, I can bear my por- 
tion of the burden." 

My Day 285 

In February he wrote me : — 

" To-day I make a reckoning of my earnings since my 
residence in New York. I was admitted to the Bar about 
the first of December. I have been ' practising,' then, about 
two months and a half. Well, my receipts for sundry 
small services have been $356, and I am retained by 
an express company. I wonder if this looks as if we are 
1 out of the woods.' Unhappily I have had to pay a debt 
incurred when I was in Fort Lafayette, and for which I had 
provided money, but it was embezzled by a dishonest 
quartermaster at the Fort. Then the small debts we owed 
when we left Washington — and which, you remember, the 
Confederate Government 'confiscated ' and for which ex- 
acted payment — -have simply waited for me to get work, 
and these I must promptly pay. However, I am hopeful. 
God grant my anticipations may be realized. 

" I have some little money owing to me and some doubt- 
ful claims, and the Court and lawyers treat me with marked 
courtesy. I study intensely and am as diligent as possible 
in attention to my duties. I mean at least to deserve 
success — which is the surest way to realize it. Kiss the 
chicks ! 

" Devotedly, 

« R. A. P. 

" P.S. A client interrupts me ! Don't be depressed, 
Sallie ! A gleam of light gilds our horizon, which has been 
dark, God knows, long enough. Next summer we must 
have our home, and won't it be a happy home ? God grant 
it. God bless us all." 

Alas, the next letter announced the fading of the 
"gleam of light" into darkness and disappointment. 

" I thought I had two good cases this week, but my 
clients decided not to sue. Oh, how weary I am of this 

286 My Day 

life ! But there is no escape, and I must not despond. 
Stimulate the boys to diligence in their studies. Is Billy 
still mischievous ? And Lucy demure ? Ah, Fan ! apple of 
my eye, how I love you! How I long to see you all! 
The bright, the happy day will soon come, I pray. 
Heaven only knows how I pine for my family ; but my 
first duty is to feed them, and until that is accomplished I 
must forego every personal gratification. 

" I am convinced the chief obstacle to my success is 
the prejudice against ' rebels.' That is fearful, and I 
feel its effects every day. I was lately employed as a 
referee to report the facts in an application for the dis- 
charge of a prisoner by the process of habeas corpus. 
When my name as referee was announced, one of the 
counsel arose and protested to the Court that he would 
not appear before a rebel whose hands were yet red with 
loyal blood. Thereupon, of course, I declined the ap- 
pointment. Still, I must toil on, nothing disheartened. 
The memory of the little household at Cottage Farm animates 
and sustains me in my troubles. May God bless and 
prosper us ! 

" Devotedly, 

« R. A. P." 

My dear aunt had now joined me with my 
little girls. One night I was awakened by a voice 
speaking to me under my window. There stood a 
negro man. " Mr. Green wants you right away, 
madam," he said. " He thinks he's dying, an' he 
says he is obliged to see you. I brought a note." 

The note from a relative of Mr. Green confirmed 
the man's statement, adding : " Let nothing prevent 
your coming. George will take care of you." 

My aunt felt a little nervous at so strange and 

My Day 287 

peremptory a summons, but at last we decided I 
must go. She could see me in the moonlight every 
step of the way, down the path, across the little 
bridge at the bottom of the ravine, and up the ascent 
beyond. So I dressed hurriedly and departed. 

I found the house in darkness and silence. The 
lady who had written me took me into her room 
and whispered her story. Mr. Green was extremely 
ill and in great distress because he had made no will. 
The house was full of his relatives, gathered because 
his death was expected. He wished to leave every- 
thing he possessed to his wife and youngest daughter, 
Nannie. He had provided for the others — given 
them their portion. He could not secretly summon 
a lawyer from town. He was miserably anxious, 
sleepless, and unhappy. 

To-night he had found himself alone with this 
relative who was nursing him, and drawing her down 
to his pillow, had begged her " Send for Mrs. Pryor 
— now and quick. She will write for me." 

I knew him only by sight, and I was, of course, 
surprised. But I did not hesitate. I was at once 
introduced into his room, and by the light of a 
solitary candle burning upon the floor in a cor- 
ner I dimly discerned the gray head and closed 
eyes of the sick man. He was sleeping peacefully, 
and we dared not awaken him. Pen, ink, and 
paper were given me, and prone upon my elbows and 
knees in the dim corner, I wrote a will, repeating 
faithfully the words I had received, beginning : 
"In the name of Almighty God — Amen — I, 
William Green," etc. 

288 My Day 

We then awaited in silence the waking of the sick 
man. Very gently I told him my errand, and read 
twice what I had written, asking him again and 
again, " Are you sure you do not wish to leave any- 
thing whatever to your other children? " " No, no, 
no ! " he answered. I put my arm beneath him, 
raised him, and the paper was laid on a pillow before 
him. He looked around helplessly. His spec- 
tacles ! We placed them, and with the pen in 
trembling fingers he signed his name, and uttered 
the last words he probably ever spoke, — "Three 
witnesses ! " His relative signed, I signed, and the 
negro nurse signed with her mark. 

" Now I'll send you home," said his friend, when 
we left the room. " No," I said, " I can do nothing 
clandestine. I must stay and tell his relatives how 
I come to be here." 

Very early they all assembled and I said : " I was 
sent for by your father last night to write his will. If 
it should displease any one of you, remember he 
only used my hand. He understood perfectly 
what he was doing." 

" I am sure it is all right, as far as I am concerned," 
said one. " I have always known this place was to be 
left to me." 

" I know nothing I can reveal, " I assured her. 

That day Mr. Green died. His will was ad- 
mitted to probate and never contested. 

Early in February old Abram, the faithful servant 
in whose care my husband left me, announced that 
we had reached the end of all our resources at Cot- 
tage Farm. Rose, the little cow, had died, the tur- 

My Day 289 

nips and potatoes Abram had raised were all gone, 
the two pigs he had reared had fulfilled their destiny 
long ago, and the government rations had ceased. 
He "could scuffle along himself, but 'twa'n't no 
use to pertend " he could " take care of mistis an' 
the chilluns, not like they ought to be took care of." 

" We must not despair, Abram," I said. " We'll 
feed the children, never fear! I must plan some- 
thing to help." 

" Plannin' ain't no 'count, mistis, less'n you got 
sump'n to work on. What we-all goin' to do for 
wood ? " 

" What you have done all along, I suppose." 

" No'm. Dat's onpossible. We done burn up 
Fort Gregg an' Battery 45. Der ain' no mo' fortifi- 
cations on de place as I knows of." 

" Fortifications ! " I exclaimed. " Why, Abram ! 
you surely haven't been burning the fortifications ! " 

" Hit's des like I tell you, mistis. De las' stick's 
on yo' woodpile now." 

" Well, Abram," I said gravely, " if we have de- 
stroyed our fortifications — burned our bridges — 
the time has come to change our base. We will 
move into town." 

Of course, without food or fuel, and without 
Abram, we could not live in the country. The 
fields were a desolate waste, with no fences to pro- 
tect a possible crop or to keep cattle within bounds. 
Abram saw no hope from cultivation — nothing to 
" work on." He had been a refugee from a lower 
plantation, and he was now inclined to put out his 
children to service, and return in his old age to his old 

290 My Day 

home and to his old master, who longed to welcome 
him. He was a grand old man. I doubt not he 
has a warm place in the bosom of that other Abram 
the faithful, but no whit more faithful than he. 

The afternoon before our departure from Cottage 
Farm, the weather was so deliciously balmy that I 
walked over the garden and grounds, thinking of 
the great drama that had been enacted on this spot. 
The spring comes early in the lower counties of Vir- 
ginia. Already the grass was springing, and on the 
trees around the well which had so often refreshed 
General Lee, tender young leaves were trembling. 
Spring had come to touch all scars with her gentle 
finger-tips. Over all the battle-torn ground, over 
the grave of the young soldier who had lain so long 
under my window, over the track ploughed by shot 
and shell, she had spread a delicate bloom like a 
smile on the lips of the dead. 

Much of my last night at Cottage Farm was spent 
at the window from which I had watched on that 
anxious night of my first home-coming. The home 
had been polluted, sacked, desecrated — and yet I 
was leaving it with regret. Many a hard battle with 
illness, with want, with despair, had been fought 
within those walls. It seemed like a long, dark 
night in which neither sun nor moon nor stars had 
appeared ; during which we had simply endured, 
watching ourselves the while, jealous lest the natural 
rebound of youthful hope and spirit should surprise 
us, and dishonor those who had suffered and bled 
and died for our sakes. 


IN March my husband wrote a letter of warm 
congratulation upon my success in gathering all 
our children together, and sent me a sum to be 
used in sending them to school. That I might aid 
my husband to mend our fortunes, I persuaded 
seven of my neighbors' children to take music 
lessons from me. The boys were entered to Mr. 
Gordon McCabe — the accomplished gentleman and 
scholar so well known and so popular in England 
as well as at home. My daughter Gordon entered 
an excellent school of which Professor Davis was 
principal. The older children had been taught by 
the Rev. William Hoge, who had been pastor of 
the Brick Church on Fifth Avenue, New York. 
They were well instructed in Greek, Latin, and 
mathematics, and eagerly embraced their new oppor- 
tunities. Before we left Virginia Gordon graduated 
in her school, and the boys took honors of their 
accomplished preceptor, — Theo winning the first 
prize — the Pegram prize, ordained to commem- 
orate Mr. McCabe's colonel, "who died with all 
his wounds in front." I The children's father longed 
all the more — were that possible — for his home. 
He writes March 15: — 

" Beg Gordon to apply herself diligently to my books — 
or what is left of them. She must read Wilson's ' Essay on 
Burns,' Macaulay's essays — Jeffrey, Wilson, and Sydney 


292 My Day 

Smith. She must study Russell's c Modern Europe,' and 
must read Pope, Cowper, and other poets. I wish her to be the 
most brilliant girl of the day. These accomplishments may 
stand her in better stead than others of mere display. 
McCabe will push the boys. 

" I know I have written you despondent letters, but I do 
not despair ! I am only depressed by my physical weak- 
ness and by my very great difficulties, but here I mean to stay ! 
It is my last cast in the game of life, and if I fail now, all 
is lost. I am writing again for the News. I need the 
money to support us. The Law is so slow — so uncertain 
that I almost despair. If I had a little farm in the country 
and barely enough for existence, I would be content, provided 
I could have my family and the enjoyment of their society. 
You can have no idea how miserable is my life here. It 
is enough to make me crazy. I can hardly endure it. I 
do trust your Christian fortitude enables you to bear our 
misfortunes better than I can. You have the children! 
Roger has written me a sweet letter, for which I thank him. 
I trust they all care a little for me ! Poor papa, so lonely 
and sad without his home ! Kiss them all for me. I love 
them more than all the world. " 

The hour before the dawn is always, we are told, 
a dark hour. This was a dark hour indeed, but the 
dawn was near. Alas, there were yet many nights 
of darkness, many mornings of fitful dawning, before 
the sun rose clearly on better days ! My husband's 
sensitive spirit responded as quickly to the humor 
of a situation as to pathos and tragedy. Very soon 
after the mournful letter I received the following : — 

" ' The Rebel Pryor ' has had ' a rap ' at last — a rap 
with no uncertain significance. I have had a call from a 
bona fide client ! 

My Day 293 

" Quite unexpectedly this morning a stalwart and evidently 
brusque person entered, and accosting me asked, ' Is your 
name Pryor ? ' I had to acknowledge the damaging fact ! 
1 Well,' he said, c my name is " France." Ben Wood has 
sent me to you to argue a case I have in Court. Now I 
have as many lawsuits as any man in the United States, 
and experience has taught me never to retain a lawyer 
until we have agreed upon all I am to pay for his services.' 

" To this I assented, but added that as I did not know 
what his case might be, I could not indicate any terms of 

" He replied, ' I live in Baltimore. I am at the head of all 
the Lottery business in the United States. My business has 
failed, and I'm trying to get discharge under your Two Thirds 
Act.' Now I had never heard of the Two Thirds Act, and 
had no notion what he meant, but this fact, you may be 
sure, I did not communicate to my intending client. At 
this point I made a bad break. 1 said, ' Mr. France, you 
know I have been practising in New York a very short 
time, and of course I am quite ignorant of the rate of charges 
here.' Instantly it occurred to me that he would draw an 
inference not only of my ignorance of fees, but of the law 
itself. Fortunately the reflection seemed to escape him. 
My object was, of course, to avoid designating the amount 
of the fee myself. I wanted to ask him fifty dollars, but 
I had a dreadful fear that the proposition would drive him 
out of the office, and I would not get even twenty-five, — 
which I would gladly have accepted. I begged him to 
name the fee, with the assurance of whatever it might be 
I would accept it. 

" He answered, ' I never prize' (this he pronounced price) 
'any man's labor.' Still I persisted in the endeavor to 
throw the burden of the offer upon him. He became 
angered, and fumed a bit, but finally said : — 

" ' Little Owen ' (a very able English solicitor who has set- 

294 My Day 

tied in New York in the practice of Bankruptcy and Insol- 
vency proceedings) — 'Little Owen has served all the cita- 
tions and prepared all the other necessary papers, and all you 
will have to do will be to argue the question of my discharge 
on the return day of the motion, three weeks hence. Now 
— I will make with you the same agreement that I have 
made with Mr. Owen — which is five hundred dollars 
cash, and one thousand if you procure my application.' 

" With the utmost dignity and appearance of reluctance 
I said, c Mr. France, you have my word that I would accept 
any offer you might make, and of course I will agree to 
this sum, however inadequate the compensation may be.' 
Going down into his pockets he drew out five hundred dol- 
lars in notes, which he gave me, and which I am sending you 
through Bob Mcllwane. Let me know when you receive it. 
I mean to win the thousand ! Expect no more long letters ! 
Between this hour and the day of argument I shall think 
of, dream of, no subject on earth but the Two Thirds Act ! " 

He argued the motion and won it. The court 
and lawyers treated him kindly, and the judge said, 
" It is a great privilege to hear a good argument 
from an able lawyer!" He was soon employed in 
other cases. His letters now exhibited the most 
hopeful temper. " I am overwhelmed," he wrote 
me, " with business for the Southern Express Com- 
pany. It keeps me employed night and day, but so 
far has yielded me no money. I hope, however, 
eventually to get a fee that shall compensate me for 
all my labor, so I am encouraged to work on. I 
am sure of success ! I feel it in me. Let us crowd 
all sail, and not languish in despair. Did you ever 
know any one who lived honestly, worked hard, 
and exerted competent talent to fail in any enterprise 

My Day 295 

of life ? I think we have competent ability ; as for 
the rest I am certain ; my health is perfect. The 
debility which so oppressed me is succeeded by per- 
fect health and vigor." 

And all because of the one-thousand-dollar fee 
(half of which he already owed) from Mr. France, 
the lottery dealer ! Wherever he is, — and I trust 
he lives to read these words, — I have for him, now 
and always, my grateful blessing. 

As for the Express Company, — the brilliant 
hopes from that quarter melted as does the baseless 
fabric of a dream. The company became hopelessly 
insolvent, and for the promised fee of three thou- 
sand dollars paid its hard-worked counsel nothing. 

The winter of 1 866-1 867 was marked with fluc- 
tuating hopes and disappointments. The great labor 
in the interests of the Express Company had yielded 

"The Express Company is insolvent beyond redemption 
[my husband wrote me] . This involves a loss to me 
of $3000 — -and again delays indefinitely the reunion with 
my family here. I am not dismayed, however, au contraire ! 
My present impulse is to retrieve the loss by extraordinary 
exertions. Work, work, work, is my duty and destiny ; 
your welfare the goal that beckons me on. I contemplate 
nothing else — I desire nothing else. I have been unan- 
imously elected a member of the Manhattan Club, — an 
association for the purpose of social enjoyment, — but of 
course the expense is a formidable bar to me. I sometimes 
attend as Mr. Schell's guest, and I am received with great 

" I have met Miss Augusta Evans, the authoress, and I 
am impressed with the goodness of her heart and her devo- 

296 My Day 

tion to learning. Her appearance is extremely pleasing — 
brown hair, the color of yours — fair complexion — blue 
eyes (I think), a fine brow and well-developed head, a fig- 
ure slight and graceful, and of your height. The expres- 
sion of her countenance is serious, almost sad, though it 
lights up with the animation of talk. She is good, modest, 
sincere, pious. Her devotion to the 'lost cause' is fa- 
natical. I think her mind is irregularly developed, but she 
has infinite ambition and will improve. 

" I have also had the great pleasure of seeing Ristori 
and of being presented to her behind the scenes. Her 
acting is a revelation. I could not understand one word 
of her language, but her voice, her exquisite articulation, 
her expressive countenance and gestures, told the story elo- 
quently to my uninstructed eyes and ears. How I longed 
for you ! All pleasure must be, in your absence, poi- 
soned for me. 

" I have agreed to accept the defence of an unhappy 
Episcopal minister who was arrested in an omnibus for 
picking a lady's pocket ! He was about to leave the stage 
when a voice arrested him : l Stop that man ! He has stolen 
my pocket-book.' The pocket-book was found upon him. 
It is by no means impossible that the thief may have 
dropped it in my client's pocket. So although he is mis- 
erably poor and can pay me nothing for my trouble, my 
sympathies are enlisted, and I shall do my best for him. 
Think of it ! An Episcopal minister ! " 

Later : — 

" My wretched client is bailed at last. I am more and 
more persuaded of his innocence, but whether I can make it 
appear in the trial is another thing. The evidence is 
almost conclusive against him. The case is so bad I can 
hardly expect the judge to discharge him. I can acquit 
him, however, before a jury." 

My Day 297 

Two months later he wrote : — 

" I have refused to be further connected in the case of 
the Episcopal minister, for reasons which it is not proper 
I should disclose even to you. He is now committed to 
the protecting care of a lawyer whose defence will be in- 
sanity ! 

"Some of the papers made haste to announce that 'the 
Rebel Pryor has been superseded in the criminal case of 
by other lawyers,' and it was suspected the publica- 
tion had emanated from the prisoner's friends to escape an 
imaginary prejudice against a ' Rebel ' advocate. The 
truth is, I learned facts from my client which made me 
withdraw from the case — facts in writing. I indignantly 

refused any further connection with . His friends 

wrote me imploring me to stand by him, and it is suspected 
that when they found me obstinate, they instigated the 
newspaper assertion ! If so, they have behaved with the 
basest ingratitude, for but for me — services which nobody 
but myself could have rendered — he would long ago have 
been in State's Prison. I voluntarily, and against their re- 
monstrance, renounced his case — and for other reasons 
than an absence of reward. What my reasons are neither 
you nor any other person shall ever know. They are in 
writing, however, and in my possession. Of course they 
know I will be silent unless I am forced to act otherwise." 

The name of this unhappy clergyman is withheld 
lest the innocent may suffer. He was accused of 
being an accomplished thief, and of concealing in 
his left hand a small pair of scissors, which he 
manipulated with such skill that he cut into the 
pockets (then worn in the ample skirts of women's 
dresses) and cleverly extracted purses and wallets. 
His case was postponed from month to month — 

298 My Day 

and finally he was allowed to leave the city for his 
home at the South, where he soon after died — the 
presumption being, I imagine, that he was insane. 

The close of the year 1866 brought no new hopes 
for the sorely distressed little family in Petersburg. 
By the closest economy, the most diligent work, — 
teaching by day, and sewing at night, — the wolf was 
kept from the door, and the school bills of the boys 
paid. Small sums came occasionally from the heart- 
sick worker in New York, — heart-sick because of 
his own impaired strength and health and the loss 
of many days from pain and illness, and also his keen 
anxieties about the future of his native state. 

But at Christmas we were all refreshed by a visit 
from him, and improved the hour by entreating that 
he should abandon the plan of living in New York. 
We were most averse to it. There was small hope 
of our ever being able to exist in that city of costly 
living and high house-rents. My husband forbore 
to grieve me, at this sacred time, by opposing me. 
After he returned to New York, he wrote me : — 

"New York, Jan. 23d, 1867. 
" My Dearest, 

" I am sending you $200, with one hundred and ninety- 
seven of which you must take up a note due Ashwell, the 
Northern sutler. This is what remains of money due him 
to redeem the silver tray from which you parted to pur- 
chase shoes for the prisoners. Get a receipt in full from 
him, get the tray, and restore it to its place in the service. 
To raise this amount I am sorely pressed. We have had 
a terribly dull season. I am comforted by the good reports 
of the children. Tell them that I rejoice to hear of the 

My Day 299 

good progress in their studies, and am particularly delighted 
with Theo's l perfect ' circular. My heart's desire is that 
the children be perfect in all things. Pray write often 
about them. Gordon writes charmingly, but her letters 
cannot be substituted for yours. Indeed I love you all 
more and more every day of my life, and I would sacrifice 
everything to be with you. Next spring you must join me. 
Do let us make the experiment. By hard work and strict 
economy we may contrive to tide over our difficulties. 
We must remember that we are poor, and must act accord- 
ingly. We must be content to live humbly. Anything is 
more tolerable than the life we now Jive. Business of 
every kind is extremely dull here, but I get some practice. 
I argued on a 4 Demurrer ' the other day and was greatly 
complimented — the Chief Justice again remarking; 'it is 
refreshing to hear a good argument by a good lawyer.' 

" Devotedly, R. A. P." 

"March 5th, 1867. 
"My Dearest, — To-morrow I will send you a certi- 
fied cheque for $50. Would it were more ! For a month 
I have been extremely pressed for money, but I still hope 
for easier times. My income is very precarious. Don't 
imagine I have the least idea of abandoning my experiment 
here. ' I mean to fight it out on this line ' to the end of 
the struggle. My practice increases slowly but surely, 
and is based, I believe, on a conviction of my competency. 
Thank God what I have accomplished, though small, has 
been achieved by my own unaided exertions, and without 
the least obligation to a human being. I have no patron. 
I have never solicited business. My only arts are, work 
and devotion to study. These expedients may be slow of 
operation, but they are sure, and they leave my dignity 
and self-respect uncom promised. I am not conscious of 
having received a favor since my residence in New \ ork 

300 My Day 

— and when the victory is achieved, I shall feel inexpres- 
sible gratification in saying, with Coriolanus, ' Alone I did 
it ! ' When I speak of ' favor ' I mean in the way of 
my profession. Of personal kindness I have been the 
grateful recipient — though not in many instances. Judge 

was perpetually obtruding his promises upon me 

until at last I told him I needed no help and would accept 
no succor. Of course he is offended. Let him be ! All 
his professions of regard are developed to be an interested 
scheme to press me into his service. 

" And now one more word. You must come to me. 
I cannot live without you. Is not poverty better than 
such an existence ? May we not live here humbly, but 
content in one another's presence ? I do not see that it is 
possible for me to get employment in Virginia. Let us 
abate something of our pride and ambition, and be content 
to live poorly and obscurely. We can at least be sus- 
tained by our mutual love and admiration. What care 
we for the world ? 

"Devotedly, R. A. P." 

A very dull season succeeded these brave words. 
My poor general suffered greatly from neuralgic 
pains in his head ; no new cases came into his office. 
He writes : — 

" I cannot account for it ! Everything looks so much 
less promising — but really now I must remain here. I 
have no money to get away ! Never before have I been 
so sick at heart. I often fear I can bear no more. I 
would come to you — supremely wretched as I am — but 
for the fact that I am without money to pay my expenses. 
In truth I haven't a cent in the world ! Yesterday I had 
one dollar, but meeting a poor little boy about Willy's 
size with an arm just broken, I gave him the last of my 

My Day 301 

fortune. Why my landlord trusts me, I know not. But 
he seems to have faith in me, and is willing to wait until I 
earn something." 

This letter was soon followed by another, — in- 
deed he wrote me every day, — and he hastened to 
say : — 

" I felt ashamed of my last letter, but the truth is my 
'business' is oppressively stagnant — from what particular 
cause, I cannot conjecture. Whether it be the result of 
accident, or of causes which portend an ultimate failure, I 
cannot pretend to affirm. If a breeze does not come soon, 
I shall be at a standstill. What then ? My family is 
dependent exclusively upon my scant earnings. If they 
fail, I see no hope in another quarter. This is the appre- 
hension that kills the soul within me. The catastrophe 
haunts me like a spectre, and clouds my spirit with a per- 
petual gloom. God only knows what the event will be — 
but I should not talk in this strain. I shall relax no effort. 
On the contrary, I never worked as strenuously in my life. 
God willing, my earnest efforts to subsist my darling family 
may yet be successful. It is for them I toil, and richly do 
they deserve every blessing. This thought, above all else, 
encourages me. May God bless them ! 

« Devotedly, R. A. P. 

" P.S. I see I repeated the sin for which I sought ex- 
cuses. The present lull in my practice I attribute to the 
general stagnation of business. Mayhap the breeze will 
come before long. 

" An unwelcome breeze of another kind is now busy 
near me. An immense fire is raging in rather close prox- 
imity to the t Waverly,' and I have some apprehensions 
of a move. The Winter Garden Theatre and the South- 
ern Hotel are in flames. How the boys would enjoy the 

302 My Day 

spectacle ! I suppose there are fifty steam-engines spout- 
ing their streams and thousands of people looking on. To- 
day, for the first time, we have an indication of approach- 
ing spring, and as they are painting my office, I mean to 
stroll about the city in enjoyment of the sunshine." 

He had now lived in New York a year and a half 
— and had borne the intense heat of summer in the 
crowded district. Except for one visit to Virginia, 
and an occasional Sunday to Fordham to visit his 
old comrade in Congress, Mr. Haskins, he had not 
left his narrow quarters for any recreation whatever. 



N April my husband exultantly announced 
that he had " eight little cases " on the 
calendar ; on May 14 he wrote : — 

" I am over head and ears with work, preparing Mrs. 
-'s case for trial. It is infinitely troublesome ; but if I 

win, my fee will be $2000 — otherwise nothing 

He did win ! In July he received his fee ! 
Within two weeks I had wound up all my small 
affairs in Petersburg, kissed " good-by " to my 
tearful little band of music scholars, sent my Aunt 
Mary with my Gordon and little Mary to "The 
Oaks " in Charlotte County to spend the rest of the 
summer, persuaded my sable laundress, Hannah, 
that New York was an earthly paradise, and taken 
passage thither with her and five of my little brood. 

A hot morning in July found us at City Point 
before sunrise, waiting for the Saratoga, one of a bi- 
weekly line of two steam-boats, now coming from 
Richmond on its way to New York. The Saratoga 
and her consort, the Niagara, had the right of way 
at that time with no competitors, and could take 
their own time without let or hindrance. They 
travelled the path now traversed by the many fine 
ships of the Old Dominion Line, and travelled it 
alone except for an occasional Clyde boat or two. 

As we waited, our noisy little engine puffed away 

3°4 My Day 

impatiently. The conductor hoped for a possible 
passenger for his return trip to Petersburg, and had 
arrived at the terminus of his short road too soon. 

City Point — lately a place of strategic importance, 
where the great ships of the Federal army had 
anchored, where Mr. Lincoln had been entertained 
by General Grant, where General Butler had long 
made his headquarters — was now silent and deserted. 
Two years before the last of General Butler's gun- 
boats had steamed away. Not a shade tree, not a 
"shanty," remained to mark the occupation of 
the Federal troops. An unsheltered platform 
afforded the only place for a traveller to rest while 
waiting for the boat, unless he could content him- 
self with the dust-covered seats in the forlorn little 
car and the limited view from the narrow, dirty car 
window. Out on the platform, seated on his own 
boxes, the traveller could see the sweep of the noble 
James River, broadened here into a sea as it took 
into its bosom the muddy waters of the Appomattox. 
Landward there was little to be seen except an 
unbroken waste of dusty road and untilled field. 

At a little distance a thin line of smoke indicated 
a small log cabin and the presence of inhabitants. 
Outside the hut there was a " patch " of corn and 
cabbages, and a watermelon vine sprawled about, 
searching for the sweet waters wherewithal to 'fill 
the plump green melons it had brought forth. A 
suspicious hen was leading her brood as far from the 
engine as possible, and a pig in an odoriferous pen 
was leaping on the sides of his stye and clamoring 
for his breakfast. Presently a languid negro woman 

My Day 305 

emerged from the cabin, and stooping over the cab- 
bages, selected a large leaf, which she proceeded to 
bind with a strip of cloth around her forehead. She 
sauntered toward us and remarked that it was 
" gvvine to be a mighty hot day." She had risen 
early, she said, to see the boat pass. Her son Jim 
was kitchen boy on the Saratoga, and not allowed 
to leave the boat, but she could see him and " tell 
'im howdy." She " cert'nly thought Sis Hannah 
lucky to git to go Nawth " (Hannah was rather 
rueful and teary, having just parted from a Jim of 
her own). " She would cert'nly go Nawth " herself 
if she wasn't " 'bleeged to stay at the Pint on account 
of the pig an' chickens an' things." She was like 
the two old maids in Dickens's funny story, who 
lived in the greatest discomfort in a crowded quarter 
on the Thames, but could not even consider the 
possibility of moving — which they could well 
afford to do — because of the trouble of moving 
"the library," a small collection of books which any 
able-bodied market-woman could easily have carried 
in her basket. 

My own movables were really of less importance 
than those of my new acquaintance. Hers represented 
the entire furnishing of a home — a home sufficient 
for her needs. Mine were the melancholy wreckage 
of a home which had been enriched with such 
treasures as are collected in a prosperous and happy 
life : only what had been saved by a good neighbor 
and a faithful servant from the sacking of our house 
at Cottage Farm — a few damaged books, a box of 
sacred silver, and one trunk, which sufficed for my 

306 My Day 

own garments and for the slender wardrobes of my 
children. I was on my way to keep house in New 
York with a service of silver and a few rain-and- 
mud-stained books which had been picked up on the 
farm by our good John. 

My heart was heavier than my boxes, as I waited 
for the boat. All the sad foreboding letters my gen- 
eral had written me rose up to fill me with doubt 
and alarm. He had rented a furnished house and 
had paid the first quarter of the $1800 it was to cost 
us. That sum seemed to me simply enormous, but 
he had spent weeks in hunting throughout the length 
and breadth of New York for the humble little 
home of his imagination. This house was far out 
on an avenue in Brooklyn. I was afraid of it ! 
I was apprehensive that a very large hole indeed 
had been made in the $2000. Moreover, my heart 
was sick in leaving Virginia — -dear old Virginia, for 
which I cherished the inordinate affection so sternly 
forbidden by the Apostle. Six years of sorrow and 
disaster had borne fruit. "Truly," I thought: — 

"All backward as I cast my e'e 
Seems dark and drear : 
And forward though I canna' see 
I doubt and fear." 

And then I had just parted with my dear aunt and 
my scarcely dearer daughters, with old friends and 
neighbors, with affectionate servants. And I was 
tired — tired unto death ! 

But the boat, churning with its great paddle-wheels 
the muddy waters of the James, was approaching, 
the captain and an early riser or two leaning 

My Day 307 

over the deck railing. My little boys ran gayly over 
the gang-plank as soon as it was lowered. Hannah 
clung tearfully to her acquaintance of an hour. The 
gang-plank was hauled in, the great paddle-wheels 
turned, and we were off, on our way to our new 

" Good-by, Dixie," called out my boys. 

" Not yet, young gentlemen," said the captain ; 
" we are still in Dixie waters, and will be until we 
reach the sea." 

As we sat on deck, steaming down the river, the 
passengers eagerly scanned the shores and recounted 
the events of the late war. The last time I had 
sailed down this river each point was interesting 
from Colonial and Revolutionary associations. Now 
all these were forgotten in its later history. Every 
spot was marked as the scene of some triumph or 
occupation of the Northern army — of some disaster 
or humiliation of the South. 

There were few passengers — three charming 
young ladies with their mother, returning home 
after a visit to the Cullen family of Richmond ; a 
group of teachers going home to New England for 
their vacation ; a comfortable negro mammy with 
her basket, very proud to repeat again and again that 
she was "just from Mobile, Alabama," to whom 
Hannah looked up with deference and respect ; and 
half a dozen or more tourists from New York re- 
turning from an inspection of the historic places in 
and around Richmond. Among these last was an 
old acquaintance, a Southern man, who at once 
sought conversation with me. He had lived in 

308 My Day 

New York before and during the war. He could not 
conceal his amazement at the desperate venture my 
general was making. " Of all places'," he said, 
" why, why are you choosing a home in New 

"Ask the withered leaf," I answered, "why it is 
driven by a winter wind to one place rather than 

" But practically," he replied somewhat testily, 
"as a matter of prudence and common sense — " 

" You think, then," I interrupted, " there is small 
hope for my poor general in New York." 

" New York — " he said slowly and with emphasis, 
" New York, you will find, has no use for the unsuc- 
cessful many 

This was an anxious thought for me to take to my 
state-room. Once there, and my restless young 
ones asleep, I realized the desperate venture we 
were making. Nothing had ever been as I wished. 
With the war, its causes, its ends and objects, I had 
nothing to do. My part was solely with the pov- 
erty, the heartbreak, the losses, the exile from home. 

An unbidden vision, many a time thrust from 
me, now arose, insistent. My early home — all 
flowers and music and beauty, my opulent life ; the 
devotion of honored friends — this was my heritage ! 
Of this I had been unjustly defrauded. Ah, well ! 
It was an old story — the story of another paradise, 
another yielding to sinful ambition, another sword, 
another parting with happiness and home to en- 
counter difficulty, poverty, danger ! Then, " The 
world was all before them where to choose a place 

My Day 309 

of rest — and Providence their guide." Aye ! Provi- 
dence their Guide ! This, this was the anchor of 
their hope, and must be mine. 

We were awakened before dawn by a confusion 
on deck — the dragging of heavy ropes, hurried 
feet, loud shouts. Throwing on my wrapper, I 
ascended, to find my little boys already on deck, 
eager for adventure. It appeared we had met our 
consort, the Niagara, in a crippled condition, had 
thrown her a cable, and were now "put about" to 
lead her into port at Norfolk. The rising sun 
found us slowly returning with the Niagara in tow ; 
but a few miles from Norfolk she signified her 
ability to go on without us, and we resumed our on- 
ward journey to New York. 

Late in the evening all eyes were turned toward land 
■ — and presently the sky-line of New York emerged 
from the mists. Very different was it from the sky- 
line of to-day. Then we saw only the uneven line 
of moderate dwellings of unequal height, broken 
here and there by the upward-pointing fingers of the 
churches. There was no " Brooklyn Bridge " span- 
ning the East River, no Babel-like towers of the 
modern sky-scraper, no great statue — like a bronze 
figure on a newel-post — of Liberty with her torch and 
coronal of stars. (I never did admire Miss Liberty. 
I always sympathized with the afflicted sculptor who 
exclaimed, as his vision was smitten by the giantess, 
" If this be Liberty, give me Death.") 

We were, after much delay, " warped " into our 
own berth, and the " dear old muggy atmosphere " 
of New York stormed my unwilling senses : atmos- 

310 My Day 

phere thickened and flavored, after a sweltering sum- 
mer day, with coal smoke, street-filth, and refuse of 
decaying fruit and many cabbages. 

But all things were forgotten when we descried 
the slight figure of my general on the pier! Very 
thin and wan did he look, sadly in need of us. He 
took us, a party of eight, to a neighboring restaurant 
for dinner; and then we crossed the ferry and in the 
horse-cars, through miles and miles of lighted streets, 
we reached our little home, far away on the outer 
edge of Brooklyn. 

The morning after our arrival we rose early to 
look about us. We were in an unsubstantial new 
house, narrow as a ladder and filled with unattractive 
furniture. Hannah agreed to take care of the chil- 
dren, and I set forth to find a market. After walk- 
ing several blocks in different directions I concluded 
there was no market within reach, and I began to 
doubt my ability to provide a dinner. A fat, stolid- 
looking policeman strolled near me as I ventured : — 

" Can you tell me, Mr. Officer, where I can find 
an honest butcher ? " 

" I'll be hanged if I know one," he replied. 

I considered. We had brought biscuit and 
crackers. I must find some milk. 

" Can you tell me, then, where I can get pure 
milk ? " 

My policeman whistled ! I don't know what 
there was in my appearance that tempted him to 
" g uv " me > but with a droll twinkle in his eye he 
said : — 

" Now look 'ere, lady ! If you was to go on a 

My Day 311 

little further, you'd get to Flatbush ; and then you'd 
see the mizzable critters standing up to their knees in 
stagnant water, with their hoofs rotting off. Sure and 
you wouldn't want any of their milk ! " 

The neighborhood was sparsely settled; a num- 
ber of vacant lots surrounded our house, which 
was one of a row all alike. I reflected that the 
people living in those houses must occasionally eat ! 
And so I walked on and on until I reached a cross 
street on which cars were running. There I found 
a stand of cakes and apples, before which a woman 
sat knitting. " My good woman," I said amiably, 
"are your cakes ■plain?'" 

She dropped her work and glared at me. " Clane, 
is it ! You think I put dirt in 'em ? " Her manner 
was so threatening that I turned and fled. Her voice 
pursued me — " An'the blarney of her ; " (mimicking), 
" c Me good ooman ' ! ' Me good ooman,' indade ! — 
the loikes of her ! " 

What my mistake had been I could not then imag- 
ine. I now know that I had, unconsciously, a manner 
unwarranted by my appearance. Turning up a new 
thoroughfare, I encountered a grocery store, with 
vegetables and fruit at the door. There I learned 
with terror the cost of provisions in this part of the 
world. At home I could buy a chicken for 25 cents 
— here I must give 30 cents for a pound of him ! 
Whortleberries (the grocer called them "blue- 
berries") could be bought at home for a few pennies 
a quart. Here 20 cents was demanded for a shallow 
box of withered specimens. Fifty cents in Peters- 
burg would buy a large beefsteak. I purchased an 

312 My Day 

infant steak for $1.50, and with this I turned my 
steps homeward. 

A small shanty, a squatter's hut, was in the corner 
of the vacant lot behind our house. Two or three 
children were playing in the dirt at the door, and a 
goat eating paper beside them. Ah ! there was a 
cow tethered to a tree not far away ! 

A kindly-faced Irish woman answered my knock. 
I frankly told her my dilemma and she sympathized 
at once. Her name was Mrs. Foley, and she would 
milk her cow in my sight morning and evening, just 
behind my house, so I could be sure of the purity of 
the milk. " An' sure in a wake ye'll see the darlint 
fatten," she assured me. And a great comfort was 
old Mrs. Foley all the time I lived near her. 

I must confess the days passed wearily enough 
through July and into August. The heat was ex- 
treme and of a depressing quality. We were so far 
away from my general's office that his long journey 
morning and evening, accompanied by Theo, was 
exhausting to both of them. I taught Mary and 
Roger, but the children were very listless and un- 
happy. They found no pleasure in walking up and 
down the uninteresting sidewalk of a hot, dreary 
street. Loneliness, enhanced by the far-off hum of 
the city, the mournful fog-horns and whistles on the 
river, and the not less depressing sounds from the 
incessant pianos around us, oppressed us all. We 
seemed to find nothing to take hold of, nothing to 
live for. 

I one day found Hannah raining tears into her 
tubs as she washed our linen, and having no mind 

My Day 313 

to have my handkerchiefs anointed with other tears 
than my own, I essayed to comfort her. Finally she 
confessed she had never seen New York. She didn't 
know if it was " thar" — for she'd "never seen sight 
of it." Moreover, Jim was writing to ask her what 
she thought of Central Park and she " cert'nly was 
'shamed to tell Jim she had heerd tell of it but never 
set foot in it." 

I had an inspiration. "Hannah," I said, "we 
have a steak for dinner. You can broil a steak and 
boil some potatoes and rice in a few minutes. Come, 
leave the tubs, run up and dress, and help me with 
the children. We will all go to Central Park, spend 
a pleasant afternoon, and get back in time for dinner." 

We were a large party, and could not get off, 
having taken a hasty luncheon, until nearly two 
o'clock. But the summer afternoons were long and 
we had no misgivings. I had no idea of the distance, 
nor did I know of any route to the Park, save the 
horse-car and ferry on our side, a walk up Wall 
Street to Broadway, and the lumbering Broadway 
omnibus with two horses for the rest of the way. 
At four o'clock we arrived in sight of Central Park ! 
A black thunder-cloud came up, and we alighted 
from our stage in a drenching rain. Of course we 
must return without seeing the Park, but to our joy 
we found a line of horse-cars waiting at the gate for 
return passengers, and dripping wet, we took shelter 
in one of these and were soon on our way home- 
ward. At the end of our journey there was Theo, 
with umbrellas — now useless, for more thoroughly 
drenched we could not well have been, — and his 

314 My Day 

father! — Well, his father was almost in a state of 
nervous prostration ! Hannah's spirits thereafter 
were worse than ever. She lost all interest in work, 
and spent much of her time leaning over her area 
gate and gazing into the street. Once I asked her 
what she was looking at. 

" Dat po-white-folks creeter hollerin' ' soap fat,' " 
she answered. " Lawd ! I wonder if dat ole creeter 
got wife ! " 

We were both mystified by the street cries. One 
man we found was not crying : " Frank Potter," 
" Frank Potter," but " rags, bottles." But another 
cry, " Pi-ap, — Pi-ap," much perplexed us. Finally 
Hannah brought in a very hard, knotty, green apple, 
the " pi-ap " man had given her as a sample of his 
wares. " Dar is his 'pi-aps,' " she explained. Light 
broke upon my benighted intelligence. " Why, 
Hannah," I said, "he means pie-apples! " "Good 
Gawd A'mighty ! " she exclaimed. " Is dat de bes' 
dey can do ! " 

In August she entreated to be sent home. In vain 
I too entreated. I felt that this was the last straw ! 
What could I do in this strange city with no faithful 
person to leave occasionally with the children ? I 
offered anything — everything — larger liberty, more 

Hannah said solemnly, " You knows I likes you 
and de chillern — but I can't stay. Wo. feared to 
stay ! I can't live in no place where folks plays 
de piano all day Sunday. I'se boun' to git out. 
Somp'n gwine to happen in dis Gawd-forsaken 
place." Then after a thoughtful pause she added 

My Day 315 

pensively : " De zvatermillions is ripe at home! I 
done wrote to Jim to git me one — a big one — and 
put it in a tub o' cole water erginst I come." 

With Hannah I lost the last link that bound me 
to the old Virginia of my childhood, my last ac- 
quaintance with the kindly old-time negro and the 
dialect so expressive, so characteristic. 

I rilled her place with an Irish woman who served 
me faithfully for many years, and was wont to com- 
miserate me for all I had suffered "with that nayger 
in the house." Her scorn of the negro knew no 
bounds. She never knew how deeply I mourned 
my loss. 

The pain of parting from friends, the doubt of the 
future, the dreams of my early home, filled my heart 
with anguish ; but I had but one consuming desire 
— to sustain and strengthen the dear one who had 
fought so many battles, and was now confronted 
with the stern struggle for existence. To be cheer- 
ful for his sake, to press strong hands over my own 
breaking heart — this was the task I set for myself. 


NOVEMBER found us at the end of a long, 
dull season. No business had come into 
the little law-office — the centre of all our 
hopes. We had made no friends among our neigh- 
bors, to whom, of course, we had made no advances. 
The silence was broken, however, one evening by a 
visit from a well-groomed, handsome young fellow, 
who, with many apologies, requested an interview 
with General Pryor. 

" So the reporters have found us out," said my 
general, but he was mistaken. His visitor had " ven- 
tured to call for advice — not legal advice exactly" — 
but he wished to know the General's opinion upon a 
matter of infinite importance to himself and to his wife. 
"Doubtless we had heard his wife singing," — we 
had — " she was a fine musician, but one could not 
live on music." 

To this my husband readily assented. He had 
a deeply rooted aversion to the piano, which he be- 
lieved to have been an invention of the Evil One in 
a moment of unusual malignity. 

" The question I wish to ask, General," said the 
young fellow, " is this, Would you advise me to go 
into politics, law, or the coffee business ? " 

" The coffee business, most decidedly," said my 
husband ; " I have tried the other two and have a 
poor opinion of both of them." 


My Day 317 

The interviewer left, perfectly satisfied to enter 
the coffee business. Through the open window 
we could hear the words of a song from the " fine 
musician " — presenting, as it were, a solution of the 
problem : — 

" It is time for the mower to whet his scythe 
For 'tis five o'clock in the morning." 

We never learned to what extent politics and the 
profession of the law had suffered, nor how much 
the coffee business had gained. One thing was 
certain : the suggestion of the fair singer, so freely 
given to the breeze, was not needed by me ; for my 
scythe was always in active operation before five 
o'clock in the morning. When " the sun came 
peeping in at morn," he always found me up and 
dressed and ready for his greeting. 

Then — as for many times before and after — our 
case seemed too desperate for rest. Often after 
our slender breakfast not an atom of food was left 
in the larder. A mouse would in vain have sought 
our hospitality. The corner grocer had once trusted 
us for provisions as far as twenty-five dollars' worth, 
but had taken his seat in the front hall and there re- 
mained until he was paid ! The bitter experience 
was never repeated. But as surely as the ravens 
were sent to feed Elijah did the Power that esteems 
us of more worth than many sparrows — many 
ravens — send us something every day; some small 
fee for a legal service or for an article written for the 
News. My general would bring this treasure 
home, Anne would be sent on a flying errand for 

318 My Day 

"a bit of a shteak" — and Mr. Micawber never 
gathered around his suddenly acquired chops a more 
hopeful brood than our own. 

Once Mr. John R. Thompson, editor of the Lit- 
erary Messenger and later of the New York Evening 
Post, fresh from England, where he had hobnobbed 
with Carlyle, Tennyson, and Dickens, came to 
dinner. I had little to offer him except a biscuit 
and a glass of ale. He did not mind. He had 
known Edgar Allan Poe, and many another pov- 
erty-stricken genius who had enriched the pages of the 
Literary Messenger for sums too pitiful to mention. 
The straits of scholarly men were familiar to him 
and detracted nothing from his interest in the men 
themselves. To be sure they were more interest- 
ing if they walked the midnight streets in default of 
other shelter than the stars (and there might be 
worse) like Johnson or Savage or Goldsmith or 
others of the Grub-street fraternity; — still, the 
victims of a revolution were quite miserable enough 
to satisfy the imagination. Misery is, after all, 
more picturesque than happiness and ease. 

John Mitchell, the Irish patriot, was another 
visitor, — railing against the English government 
and declaring he would yet live to " strike the 
crutches from the old hag, on the British throne " ; 
talk to which no stretch of politeness could in- 
duce me to listen. I had been taught to love 
the good, young queen, of whom the English 
philanthropist, Joseph John Gurney, had told me 
when I, a child of eight years, had sat upon his 
knee in my uncle's house in Virginia. 

My Day 319 

An agreeable old German gentleman, whom we 
had known in Washington, also came from New 
York to see us. " Oh, Pryor, Pryor," he exclaimed, 
how could you bring Madam to this mel-tf/z'-choly 
place? " 

The place would have been paradise to us if only 
God would give us bread for our children. We 
had come to fear we would never have more — per- 
haps not this. The society — exclusively of " Adul- 
lamites " like ourselves — was not conducive to 
hope and cheerfulness. Very few Southerners were 
at that time in New York. We were pioneers. 
Truly they were all — like the followers of David 
— " in distress, in debt, and discontented." 

Just at this anxious time I received a letter from 
my dear Aunt Mary. She felt that she was incur- 
ably ill. While she had strength, she would come, 
place Gordon safely in her father's house, and then 
die in my arms ! In a few days she would arrive 
in New York and I must meet her at the boat with 
provision for having her borne to a carriage. 

This was overwhelming news. How could I 
provide comforts for my more than mother ? There 
was but one thing left us. We must pledge our 
service of silver — a testimonial service with a 
noble inscription, presented, we remember, to my 
general by the Democratic party of Virginia after 
he had fought a good fight against the peril threat- 
ened by the " Know Nothing" party. This silver 
was very precious. Sell it we could not, but per- 
haps we could borrow a few hundred dollars, giving 
it as security. 

320 My Day 

The idea of a pawn-broker never occurred to us. 
It seems to me now that I had then never heard 
of a pawn-broker ! 

But not a great many years before this, as we 
remember, when I was fifteen years old, this dear 
aunt who had reared me had suddenly discovered 
that the child was a woman. She must see the 
world. She must travel to Niagara Falls, visit all 
the great cities and see their museums, libraries, 
theatres, what not ; she must have hats from Mme. 
Viglini in New York, gowns from Mrs. McComas 
in Baltimore, — and jewels from Tiffany's. From 
the latter my adoptive father had bought me lovely 
turquoise, rubies, white topaz necklaces, and jewelled 
combs. Surely, I now thought, this will be the 
place where I may be remembered and find some 
kindness. Accordingly I repaired thither and made 
my plea. I was told, of course, that the firm must 
see the silver. Naturally none of the gentlemen 
who talked with me could remember ever having 
heard of me before. I must send the silver and then 
return for my answer. Accordingly I boxed it, sent 
it, and on the third day presented myself — a very 
wistful figure — at the silver counter. A tall young 
man, whose name I learned afterwards, said to me 
with some hauteur, " Madam, we have weighed your 
silver, and will allow you $540 for it." 

" I will redeem it soon, I hope," I answered. 

" Redeem it ! Madam, this is not a pawnshop ! 
We buy silver." 

tc Then will I not get it back again ? " 

" Certainly not ! " 

My Day 321 

I hesitated. My need was sore — but oh, to 
part forever with this sacred inheritance for my 
children ! 

" You had as well realize," said my tall young man, 
— and he looked to me colossal, — " that you 
will never have occasion to use silver again. You 
had as well let it go to the crucible first as last. 
You will, of course, be obliged to live humbly 
hereafter, and — " 

But I had risen in great wrath against him. 
Flushed and indignant I retorted, "You mistake, 
sir ! I shall use my silver again ! I shall not live 
humbly always," and left the store. 

But once again on the sidewalk with the sharp 
November wind blowing in my face I remembered my 
dear invalid. I remembered my cold house, in 
which there had been provided no furnace, no stove, 
nothing but open grates for heating. I knew then 
as well as I know now that the firm was in no 
wise responsible for the discourteous language of its 
representative. I had only happened to encounter 
a fanatic, a hater of the South, — and it was not the 
first time. Possibly should I return and seek an- 
other one of the corps of clerks I might fare better. 
But no ! I would perish first. 

Just at this moment I recollected that my dear old 
chaplain-father had said, in bidding me good-by, 
"If you ever need a friend, you may advise with 
my friend in New York — Henry Corning." 

This sent me to a directory in a near-by drug 
store, where I found "Corning" and an address to 
a bank on Broadway. I repaired thither, and was 

322 My Day 

directed to a private room, where a venerable gentle- 
man rose to greet me and offer me a seat. I was 
very tired and miserable, but I told my errand as 
best I could. 

" I have not the pleasure of knowing your father," 
said the gentleman, looking at me kindly through 
his spectacles (and down went the mercury of all 
my courage), " but," he added, " I think my nephew, 
Henry Corning, is your man. I have heard him 
speak of the Rev. Dr. Pryor. I will give you his 
address. My name is Jasper Corning." 

I am sure there were tears in my eyes when he 
looked up, as he handed me a slip of paper, for he 
added kindly: " I feel certain Henry will not fail 
you. Don't despair ! God is good." 

Another omnibus ride brought my heavy heart 
to the door of Mr. Henry Corning, in Madison 
Avenue. He was sitting at his desk on the ground 
floor — and without one word of response to my 
simply told story turned to his desk and wrote 
his check for $500 ! 

"I will send you the silver immediately," I said 
— but he only bowed, and with "My regards to 
your father," he allowed me to take leave. 

I called at Tiffany's on my return, gave an order 
at the desk, paid the cartage, and ordered the silver 
to be addressed to Mr. Corning. 

When the time came, a year afterwards, for me 
to redeem it, I saw Mr. Corning again, thanked him 
for his kindness, and said, " I am now ready to 
redeem the silver." He looked at me with a twinkle 
in his eye and asked, " What silver ? " 

My Day 323 

" Surely," I exclaimed in great alarm, " surely you 
received it." 

" Oh, well, " he replied, " if you say so, I sup- 
pose it is all right. I have never seen your silver. 
There's a box there in the corner. The box has 
not been opened since you sent it." 

My dear aunt had her wish. She died in my 
house. She was ill a long time. Through the kind- 
ness of a Southern friend I was introduced to Dr. 
Rosman, who attended her with devotion and skill. 
He was the gentlest and kindest of physicians. He 
admired and appreciated her, and truly she was a 
grande dame in every respect; courteous, dignified, 
and beautiful, even at sixty years of age. 

" When faith and Hope, which parting from her never 
Had ripened her just soul to dwell with God, 
Her alms and deeds and all her great endeavor 
Were never lost, nor in the grave were trod." 

She lives, I humbly trust, in two children of her 
adoption, who owe to her all they are or ever hope 
to be. 

The struggle, the wounds, the defeats we suffer 
at each other's hands may all be classed under the 
head of battles, — battles where the ultimate defeat 
or victory is in our own hands, — in the harm or 
good done to our souls. The fight in the field 
ended, hostility, hatred, bitterness, should also end ; 
but, alas, the battles of prejudice, resentment for 
unforgiven injuries, may continue for years. Some 
of these my story compels me to record, but as old 
Thomas Fuller quaintly says: "These battles are 

324 My Day 

here inserted, not with any intent (God knows my 
heart) to perpetuate the odious remembrance of mu- 
tual wrongs, that heart-burnings may remain when 
house-burnings have ceased, but only to raise our 
gratitude to God that so much strife should have 
raged in the bosom of so fair a land, and yet so few 
scars remain." 


WHILE these sad days and nights of heavi- 
ness hung over us, we were painfully con- 
scious that some of our own people mis- 
understood my husband's position in New York. 
Our having left Virginia was resented at the time, 
and now General Pryor's avowed belief that the 
salvation of the South could only be assured by 
acquiescence in the inevitable, and in the full exer- 
cise of justice to the negro, was most unacceptable. 
This was before the right of suffrage had been con- 
ceded to the negro ; in the interval between the fall 
of the Confederacy and the Reconstruction period, — 
an interval during which the_South was in a condi- 
tion of resentment and agitation which portended a 
possible renewal of the conflict, — one of General 
Pryor's friends wrote him of the feeling against him 
and the cause. 

The following answer to this letter was sent by 
my husband to the Richmond Whig, and puts him 
on record before the world at a time when such opin- 
ions were decidedly adverse to the feelings of many 
of his own personal friends. It required courage 
to write this letter. Since that time the prophetic 
words have been fully justified by subsequent events, 
and the unwelcome sentiments are to-day fully in- 
dorsed by the South. They are pregnant with wis- 


326 My Day 

dom, perhaps as much needed now as at the time 
they were uttered. 

"New York, October 5, 1867. 

" My dear Sir : I was apprised before the receipt of 
your letter that a certain paper of Virginia had stigma- 
tized me as a c Radical ' and had otherwise imputed to me 
sentiments inimical to the interests of the South. But the 
silly story I disdained to contradict, while it rested on the 
authority of the irresponsible person who propagated it. 
Since you say that my silence is construed into a sort of 
acquiescence in the reproach, I empower you to repel the 
accusation with the utmost energy of indignant denial. I 
have not the vanity to imagine that my opinions are of the 
least consequence to any one ; but, because they have been 
brought into controversy, and have been the occasion of 
subjecting me to some unmerited animadversion, I will tell 
you very frankly and freely in what relation I stand to the 
politics of the day. 

"In the first place, then, neither with politics nor parties 
have I the least concern or connection. On the downfall 
of the Confederacy I renounced forever every political as- 
piration, and resolved henceforth to address myself to the 
care of my family and the pursuit of my profession. But 
for all that I have not repudiated the obligations of good 
citizenship. When I renewed my oath of allegiance to the 
Union, I did so in good faith and without reservation ; and 
as I understand that oath, it not only restrains me from acts 
of positive hostility to the government, but pledges me to 
do my utmost for its welfare and stability. Hence, while 
I am more immediately concerned to see the South restored 
to its former prosperity, I am anxious that the whole coun- 
try, and all classes, may be reunited on the basis of common 
interest and fraternal regard. And this object, it appears 
to me, can only be attained by conceding to all classes the 

My Day 327 

unrestricted rights guaranteed them by the laws and by oblit- 
erating as speedily and as entirely as possible the distinc- 
tions which have separated the North and the South into 
hostile sections. 

" With this conviction, while I pretend to no part in 
politics, I have not hesitated, in private discourse, to advise 
my friends in the South frankly to 'accept the situation'; 
to adjust their ideas to the altered state of affairs ; to rec- 
ognize and respect the rights of the colored race ; to cul- 
tivate relations of confidence and good-will toward the 
people of the North ; to abstain from the profitless agita- 
tions of political debate ; and to employ their energies in 
the far more exigent and useful work of material reparation 
and development. Striving out of regard to the South to 
inculcate that lesson of prudent conduct, I have urged such 
arguments as these : That the negro is, in no sense, 
responsible for the calamities we endure ; that towards us 
he has ever conducted himself with kindness and subordi- 
nation; that he is entitled to our compassion, and to the 
assistance of our superior intelligence in the effort to attain 
a higher state of moral and intellectual development ; that 
to assume he was placed on this theatre as a reproach to 
humanity and a stumbling-block to the progress of civiliza- 
tion would be to impeach the wisdom and goodness of 
Providence ; that, considering the comparative numbers of 
the two races in the South, it would be the merest mad- 
ness to provoke a collision of caste ; in a word, that it is 
absolutely essential to the peace, repose, and prosperity of 
the South that the emancipated class should be undisturbed 
in the enjoyment of their rights under the law, and should 
be enlightened to understand the duties and interests of 
social order and well-being. But it has appeared to me 
that the chief obstacle to a complete and cordial reunion 
between the North and the South is found in the suspicion 
and resentment with which the people of these sections 

328 My Day 

regard each other. Hence, while on the one hand assuring 
the Northern people of the good faith with which the South 
resumes its obligations in the Union, I have thought it not 
amiss, on the other, to protest to my Southern friends that 
the mass of the Northern community are animated by far 
more just and liberal sentiments toward us than we are apt 
to suspect. 

" And thus, leaving to others the ostensible part in the 
work of reconstruction, and abstaining studiously from all 
political connection and activity, I have hoped in some 
measure, and in a quiet way, to repair the evil I contributed 
to bring upon the South by availing myself of every ap- 
propriate private opportunity to suggest these counsels of 
moderation and magnanimity. Passion, to which in truth 
we had abundant provocation, precipitated us into seces- 
sion ; reason must conduct us back into the path of peace 
and prosperity. 

" Hard it may be to purge our hearts of the resentments 
and prejudices engendered by civil war ; but until our 
minds be enlightened by a philosophic comprehension of the 
exigencies of our situation, we shall never recover the repose 
after which the wearied spirit of the South so eagerly pants. 

" At whatever risk of personal obloquy, and at whatever 
sacrifice of personal interest, — and you know it involves 
both obloquy and sacrifice to talk as I do, — I am resolved 
to employ all the energy and intellect I may command in 
the incessant endeavor to promote peace and good-will 
among the people of the lately belligerent states. What 
the country needs, what in a most especial manner the 
South needs, is repose ; freedom from the throes of political 
agitation, and leisure to recruit its exhausted energies. 
The experience of the past six years should have impressed 
on the mind of the American nation this most salutary 
lesson, — a lesson sooner or later learnt by every nation in 
the development of its own history, — that civil war is the 

My Day 329 

sum and consummation of all human woe. Protesting 
solemnly the integrity of motive by which I was then 
actuated, yet I never recall the names of the noble men 
who fell in our conflict ; I never look abroad upon our 
wasted fields and desolated homes ; I never contemplate 
the all-embracing ruin in which we are involved, the sad 
eclipse of our liberties and the sinister aspect of the future, 
without inwardly resolving to dedicate all I possess of 
ability for the public service to the task of averting another 
such catastrophe, and to that end of cultivating a spirit of 
forbearance and good feeling among all classes and all 
sections of the country. 

" These, my dear sir, are the opinions, very briefly and 
dogmatically delivered, which I entertain touching the 
actual condition of the Southern states, and the policy 
proper for them to pursue in the present juncture. They 
are the result of anxious and conscientious reflection, of 
much observation of the popular temper of the North, and 
of extreme and unabated solicitude for the welfare of the 
community to which I am attached by the strongest ties of 
filial devotion. With the utmost sincerity of conviction, 
I believe that, by a system of conduct in conformity to 
these suggestions, the Southern people may achieve a pros- 
perity and happiness equal to any they ever enjoyed ; while 
on the contrary, I am as firmly persuaded that, by a vain 
and impatient resistance to an order of things they cannot 
change, and to a destiny they cannot escape, they will 
infinitely aggravate the miseries of their present condition, 
and besides, bring down upon themselves calamities appall- 
ing to contemplate. 

" I am not acquainted with the classification of parties, 
but if these opinions make me a ' Radical,' then I am a 
1 Radical ' ; for they are deliberately the opinions of 
" Very truly yours, 

"Roger A. Pryor." 


EARLY in the spring of 1868 we removed 
to Brooklyn Heights near the Ferry, much 
nearer my husband's office in Liberty Street. 
New York had not then stretched an arm across 
East River and taken into its bosom Brooklyn — 
already the third city in the Union. The two cities, 
now one in name, were practically one in interest as 
early as 1867. A great multitude of the dwellers 
of Brooklyn crossed the ferry every morning on 
their way to their daily work in New York. Brooklyn 
was a huge, overgrown village; a city of churches, a 
city of homes, and of children innumerable. Every 
year in May a mighty army — thousands and thou- 
sands — of these children paraded the streets under 
banners from their respective Sunday-schools, — a 
unique spectacle well worth a pilgrimage thither, 
provided one could content himself with a precari- 
ous footing on a crowded sidewalk ; for these 
children had the " right of way " — and knowing 
their right, dared maintain it. 

In 1867 the streets were so deserted — was not 
everybody in New York for the day ? — that little 
children adopted them as a perfectly safe play- 
ground. There were no elevated railroads, no trol- 
ley cars, no automobiles, no bicycles, no electric lights, 
no telephones. 

Our move was signalized by a complication of 


My Day 331 

difficulties. Four of my younger children found 
this an altogether suitable time to indulge in measles. 
Hasty visits to a near-by auction room resulted in a 
few needful articles of furniture which were lent to 
us — for we could not purchase. The auctioneer 
was to own them, and reclaim them if not paid for 
in a certain time. A small room was shelved for 
the books that had survived the sacking of our 
house, and to our great satisfaction we found that 
the much-used books — books of reference — had 
proven too bulky or too shabby to be stolen. 
These and other well-worn, well-read books became 
the nucleus of a large library, and hold to-day in 
their tattered bindings places of honor denied 
newer lights of more creditable appearance. We 
were not aware when we moved to Brooklyn 
Heights that we had descended into the very centre 
of the wealthiest society of the city. Had we 
known this, it would have signified nothing to us. 
Our extreme poverty forbade any expectation of 
indulgence in social life, even had we felt we had the 
smallest right to recognition. We had never known 
anything about the social ambition of which in later 
years we hear so much — still less did we now 
regard it. We " asked our fellow-man for leave to 
toil," and asked nothing more. 

We soon discovered that the people around us 
lived in affluent ease and elegance — but that was 
not our affair ! We had no place in their world, 
nor did we desire it. To conceal our true condition 
was our instinctive impulse, and to that end we 
shunned notice. Sometimes a great wave of deso- 

332 My Day 

lation and loneliness — a longing inexpressible for 
companionship — would possess me. At this time 
there was a bridge over Broadway below Cortlandt 
Street. I sometimes, at seasons of great depression, 
accompanied my husband to his office, and would 
ascend the steps to this bridge and look up and 
down the restless sea of passing crowds. Such a 
sickening sense of loneliness would come over me, I 
would feel that my heart was breaking. All seemed 
so desolate, so hopeless, for us in this great unknown 
world. We knew ourselves not only strangers but 
aliens, outcasts. 

Dear little Willy came to me one day and advised 
me to change his terrier's name, " Rebel," — a name 
he had borne by reason of his own disposition, and 
not at all in honor of the " lost cause." " The boys 
will stone him," said Willy; " I am going to call him 
' Prince ' in the street and c Rebel ' at home." On 
another day his younger sisters were decoyed into 
the garden of a neighbor, and there informed by the 
children of the house that we would not be allowed 
to live in the street — that we were "Rebels, and 
slave-drivers, and awful people ! " These painful 
incidents were of everyday occurrence. " Mamma 
told me," said one of the little ones, " that God loves 
us. Will everybody else hate us ? " Before very 
long, however, the little rebels made friends and 
were forgiven all their enormities. 

The good people of Brooklyn at that time were 
taking up their cobblestones and laying a wooden 
pavement on Pierpont Street, and fascinating blocks 
of wood were piled at intervals in the street. Of 

My Day 333 

course, the boys immediately built of them a village 
of tiny houses, and one day a committee of bright- 
eyed fellows — Tom and Charley Nichols and Dr. 
Schenck's boys — waited on me with a request that 
my little girls be permitted to " come out and keep 
house " for them. The little girls, they added gal- 
lantly, would be allowed to choose the boys ! That 
was not difficult. The small housekeepers walked 
off with Tom and Charley. "Say," said one of the 
proud owners of real estate, with a pristine recogni- 
tion of woman's place in the household, "will your 
cook give you some potatoes and apples ? We've 
got a splendid fire around the corner." 

" Sure, an I'll not lave you do it," said Anne out 
of the basement window. " Is it burnin' down the 
place ye'll be afther doin' ? " — but a " Please, Anne, 
dear," from the smallest housekeeper settled the 
matter. A fire in the street would be a strange 
spectacle in the Borough of Brooklyn to-day. 

A family of healthy children well governed can- 
not be unhappy, even in the most depressing circum- 
stances. My own little brood positively refused to 
be miserable. They had literally nothing that must 
be acquired with money, but their own ingenuity 
supplied all deficiencies. In the vacant space in the 
rear of our house there was a cherry tree which never 
fruited, but bore a wealth of green leaves and blos- 
soms. There the children elected to establish a 
menagerie. They soon stocked it from the " estray " 
animals in the street. They were " Rebel," the ter- 
rier; "Vixen," the dachshund; " Tearful Tommy," 
the cat; "Desdemona," a white rabbit; and "Othello," 

334 My Day 

her black husband, purchased from a dealer ; and 
" Fleetwing," the pigeon, which had trustfully 
entered one of Roger's traps. As there were 
no stockades, no cages, Fleetwing was tethered 
to the cherry tree, and as cord might wound her 
slender leg, a broad string of muslin was provided 
for her comfort. 

One day I heard lamentation and excited barking 
in the menagerie. Fleetwing had vindicated her 
right to her name, and was calmly sailing in the blue 
ether, like a kite with a very long tail — her muslin 
fetter trailing behind her. We hoped she would 
return, but she never did. Othello and Desdemona 
were very interesting. They always came, like 
children, to the table with the dessert, hopping 
around on the cloth from corner to corner for 
bits of celery ; but when the fires were kindled, 
Desdemona breathed coal gas from the register, 
keeled over, and expired. Othello's mourning coat 
expressed suitable sorrow and respect, but very 
soon he too experimented with the register and fol- 
lowed his helpmate. 

The time came (with these healthy children to 
feed) when, like Mrs. Cadwalader, I had to get my 
coals by stratagem and pray to heaven for my salad 
oil — with this difference, that my prayer was for 
daily bread, and that alone. Long and painfully 
did I ponder the dreadful problem — how to keep 
my family alive without driving the dear head of 
the house to desperation. Study, work, unremitting 
study and work from early morning until late at 
night was his daily portion. Not until the last ex- 

My Day 335 

pedient had failed should he know aught of my 
household anxieties. 

At last I resolved to go to a dignified old gentle- 
man I had observed behind the desk at a neighbor- 
ing grocery and tell him the truth. But I remembered 
my New York experience with the silver. So be it ! 
I had borne rebuff more than once — I could bear 
it again. 

I told Mr. Champney — for this was the name 
of the old gentleman — that I was the wife of Gen- 
eral Pryor, that we had come North to live, that my 
husband's profession was not yielding enough for 
our support, nor had we any immediate ground upon 
which to build hope for better fortune; that I did 
hope, however, to pay for provisions for my family — 
sometime, not soon, but certainly if we lived ; and 
that certainly, without food, we should not live ! 

He wished to know if I was the mother of the 
children he had seen in his store. I answered in 
the affirmative, and with no further parley he drew 
forth a little yellow pass-book and handed it to me. 
" Use this freely, madam," he said ; " I shall never 
ask you for a penny ! You will pay me. General 
Pryor is bound to succeed." He kept his word. 
His German porter, Fred, came to me every morn- 
ing for my frugal orders, and gave me every possible 
attention. At every day of reckoning demanded by 
myself, my creditor politely remarked, there was " no 
occasion for hurry " ! His name, " S. T. Champney," 
was, thenceforward, with my children, " the St." — 
and as such remains in my memory. 

The city of Brooklyn had grown almost as rapidly 

33 6 M y Da y 

as the Western cities — Chicago, Seattle, and others, 
and a great number of poor people were crowding 
into it, seeking homes. Perpetually recurring in- 
stances of distress and homelessness appealed to the 
good women of Brooklyn Heights — Mrs. Bulkley, 
Mrs. Packer, Mrs. Alanson Trask, Mrs. Eaton, wife 
of a professor of the Packer Institute, Mrs. Rosman, 
Mrs. Craig, and others, and they finally resolved to 
found a home for friendless women and children. They 
rented a small frame building on one of the upper 
streets, and in a few months the house was crowded. 
Mrs. Eaton, early sent by heaven to be my good 
angel, had longed for an opportunity to relieve my 
loneliness and isolation, and she procured for me an 
invitation to join the society of women. I soon be- 
came interested, and spent part of every day with 
the wretched beneficiaries of the charity. Finally 
our small house was unwisely crowded, and the chil- 
dren became ill. Mrs. Packer took one of the poor 
little babies in a dying condition to her own home, 
and nursed it with the utmost tenderness. I gave 
shelter to one of the women, and others were taken 
by the different members of the society until we 
could command healthy quarters for them. We 
resolved to purchase a large house, and entered with 
great zeal upon our work. It was my good fortune 
to discover the present Home on Concord Street, 
the fine old Bache mansion about to be sold for a 
beer-garden. I was requested to draw up a petition 
to the legislature for an appropriation, which I did 
in the most forceful language I could command. 
Mrs. Packer went to Albany with it, and $ 10,000 

My Day 337 

was immediately granted us. Each of us (we 
were only fifteen), armed with a little collector's 
book, undertook to canvass the town. We needed 
$20,000 more to buy our home. 

I went forth with a heavy heart — for I was the 
only one who had not headed her subscription 
with $500. I collected a few pitiful sums only. 
Nobody would listen to me — nobody knew me ! 
I bore it as long as I could, and one evening I an- 
nounced to my astounded general that I intended 
to give a concert. He informed me in strenuous 
English that he considered me a lunatic. 

However, I went to work. I engaged a profes- 
sional reader, who agreed to give his services ; 
persuaded a German music teacher to lend me her 
pupils; and then looked around for a "star." In- 
vestigation resulted in my learning that Madame 
Anna Bishop was living in New York. Once a 
very famous prima donna, she was now " shelved," 
although her voice was still good. She had grown 
stout, and could no longer create a sensation in 
"The Dashing Young Sergeant" that "marched 
away " so gallantly fifteen years before. 

I hunted up Madame Bishop. She received my 
proposition graciously. Would she give an evening 
for the poor friendless women ? " Give, my dear lady ! 
I give nothing. Am I not a friendless woman my- 
self! But I'll come for $100, and bring my accom- 
panist. He shall give his evening. But I never 
sing for nothing." 

I engaged madame — and then I was a busy 
woman indeed. I hired a hall and two pianos, wrote 

338 My Day 

programmes and advertisements and had rose-colored 
cards painted, " Soiree, Musical and Literary." I 
discovered a florist near my hall, and persuaded him 
to lend me all his plants, — I wrote invitations to 
my ushers and presented each one with a crystal 
heart for a badge, — and then I went home, on the 
great evening, tired to death, and perfectly sure it 
would end in failure. My general, fully of the 
same opinion, tried to comfort me by saying that I 
would know better next time. He went early to 
the hall, and when I arrived he was pacing the street 
in front of the door. " The place is crammed full," 
he announced ; " there is hardly standing room." 

It wanted but eight minutes to the hour announced 
for commencing, and Madame Bishop had not ar- 
rived. Mrs. Gamp's fiddle-string illustration would 
have again been a feeble expression of mine. My 
heart almost failed me. But at last the expected car- 
riage arrived, — -madame, her maid, and her accom- 
panist. To my exclamation of relief, she threw back 
her head and laughed heartily: "Oh, you amateurs ! 
Now, you just go and get a seat and enjoy the music. 
We'll go on by the programme all right." 

Advance sale of tickets had yielded $100. This 
I handed madame in an envelope. All went well. 
She was very good indeed — very spirited. The 
dashing young sergeant marched away with all the 
fire of earlier days. Everybody was pleased. When 
I thanked madame, she slipped into my hand her 
own donation — $50. The next day I entered $500 
upon my collection book and, thus vindicated, I was 
able to face my colleagues. 

My Day 339 

A great and useful chanty is this Home for 
friendless women and children in Brooklyn. And 
noble were the women I learned to know and love 
who worked with me there. They made me their 
corresponding secretary, and liked everything I did 
for them. 

Some women formerly of high position in the 
South found temporary refuge in this Home. The 
world would be surprised if I should give their 
names ! In the depth of winter I once found a 
woman bearing one of Virginia's oldest names. She 
was sitting upon a box beside a fireless stove, 
warming her baby in her bosom. Her husband 
had gone out to hunt for work ! She had no fire, 
no furniture, no food ! Another, belonging to a 
proud South Carolina family, I found in an attic in 
New York. She had had no food for two days ! 
These, and more, I was enabled by the lovely 
women of Brooklyn to relieve, delicately and per- 
manently. Better, truer, more cultivated women I 
have nowhere known. Of the extent of my own 
anxieties and privations they never knew. Some- 
thing within me proudly forbade me to complain. 
My dear Mrs. Eaton alone knew the true 
condition of my own family. She lives to bear 
testimony to the truth of the strange story I am 
telling — the story of a Southern general and his 
wife, who showed smiling, brave faces to the world, 
and suffered for ten years the pangs of extreme 
poverty in their home, working all the time to the 
utmost limit of human endurance. Not one 
moment's recreation did we allow ourselves — our 

340 My Day 

" destiny was work, work, work " — and patiently 
we fulfilled it. Hard study filled my husband's 
every waking hour, and few were his hours of sleep. 
Excessive use of his eyes night and day so injured 
them that at one time he found reading impossible. 
Gordon read his law aloud to him for many weeks. 
I once copied a book of law forms for him as we had 
no money to buy the book — the hardest work I 
have ever done ! It was my custom to retire at night 
with my family and, after all were quietly sleeping, to 
rise and with my work-basket creep down to the 
library, light a lamp, and sew until two or three 
o'clock in the morning. There were seven chil- 
dren. All must be clothed. I literally made every 
garment they wore, even their wraps in winter. 
Through the kindness of Professor Eaton arrange- 
ments were made that enabled my little girls to 
attend the Packer Institute, founded by the most 
gracious and beautiful of women, Mrs. Harriet 
Packer. When they went forth in the morning to 
their school, they all presented a fresh, well-groomed 
appearance — the result of the midnight lamp and 
work-basket ! 

I remember but one occasion when any member of 
the family indulged in outside amusements. Just 
across the river were the brilliant theatres and opera- 
houses of the great metropolis. Here in Brooklyn 
were plays, concerts, balls, evening parties. The 
children for five or six years after our coming North 
never supposed these things possible for them. I 
cannot say the fate of Tantalus was ours. True, 
the rivers of delight were around us, but we never 

My Day 341 

"bent todrink" — never gave the "refluent waters" 
an opportunity to shrink from our lips. We simply 
ignored them. But Gordon and Roger had one 
great pleasure in 1868. It would be hard to make 
this generation understand the emotions with which 
they saw and heard Dickens. His books had for 
a time made the very atmosphere of their lives ! 
They talked Dickensese to each other, and fitted 
his characters into the situations of their own lives. 
Now they were to look upon the man himself. Of 
this experience my daughter writes me : — 

" I remember as I awaited his appearance how my heart 
beat. I doubt whether the recrudescence of Shakespeare 
would move me as much now. At the appointed hour he 
ascended the little platform of Plymouth Church with a 
rapid gait, almost running up the few steps, as I remember; 
but truly my heart was thumping so, and there was such 
a mist of agitation before my eyes, that I did not at once 
clearly discern the great magician. When my brain cleared 
with a jerk and I could make myself believe that Dickens 
was really before me, what did I see ? A very garish per- 
son with a velvet-faced coat and a vast double watch chain — 
all, as well as his rather heavy-nosed unspiritual face per- 
fectly presented in the photograph of the time. He had an 
alert, businesslike way with him, no magnetism, as I recol- 
lect. But his reading impressed me then as now, as per- 
fection of elocution — natural, spontaneous, as if he himself 
enjoyed every word of it and had never done it before. He 
read the trial scene from Pickwick inimitably. I think I 
have since seen the criticism that he did not give us the 
Sam Weller of our imagination, but certainly it did not so 
impress me then. I was absolutely satisfied. He followed 
Pickwick with Dr. Marigold, for which I cared much less. 

342 My Day 

Dickens's pathos, even in my days of thraldom, almost al- 
ways struck me as mawkish. Somehow, in looking at the 
man, it was hard to believe in his sentiment — though I 
still think much of it sincere. But truly, in appearance, he 
is what is now called ' a bounder.' I never read Forster's 
life of him : I know him only through his own books, but 
my impression of him from his appearance is that he was 
not exactly a gentleman. Yet I forgot everything except 
delight in the reading — after my initial shock of the velvet 
coat, the ponderous watch chains, the countenance to match. 
And to this day one of my most cherished memories is that 
I saw and heard Dickens." 


1SOON found that two of my children were 
old enough to pine for something more than 
physical comfort. They did not propose to 
live by bread alone. The appealing eyes of our 
daughter Gordon were not to be resisted and, as I 
have said, she entered the Packer Institute with her 
little sisters, entering the senior class, where she soon 
graduated with the first honors, — and where she 
nobly taught an advanced class, — relinquishing at 
eighteen years of age all the pleasures to which she 
was entitled. Theo, I supposed, would learn law 
in his father's office. But he, too, like Goethe, 
craved "more light." One day as I was returning 
from church he asked me, with suppressed feeling, 
if he was ever to go to college. 

I was smitten to the heart ! When I repeated this 
to his father, he declared, "He shall ! " And 
within a few months a scholarship at Princeton was 
found and promised, provided the boy could pass a 
creditable entrance examination. 

The little man went up alone early one morning 
to meet his fate. He returned at night. "And 
did you enter ? " we exclaimed. Very calmly he an- 
swered : " They were very kind to me at Princeton. 
I was examined at some length, and I shall enter the 
junior class." 

When I packed his small trunk for his collegiate 


344 % Da y 

life, I found I had little to put into it — little more 
than my tears ! His first report read, " In a class 
of eighty-three he stands first." 

He maintained this standing for two years. The 
class included bearded men who had been prepared 
thoroughly in the best preparatory schools. Theo 
had received less than two years at Mr. Gordon 
McCabe's school. All the rest of his time he 
had given to study, alone, and unassisted. 

A day came in Petersburg when he, perceiving 
the necessities of his family, had sold his beloved 
rifle for $40. Out of that sum he reserved for 
himself $2, and returned home with a work on 
advanced mathematics under his arm. 

He was a •perfect boy. If he ever thought 
wrongly, I cannot tell — I know he never did 
wrong. Personally, he was as beautiful as he was 
good — clear-eyed, serene, with a grand air. " For 
the future of one of my children," I was wont 
to say, " I have no fear. Theo will always be 
fortunate." It was said of him by President McCosh 
that he was " preternaturally gifted mentally." He 
always acquired knowledge with perfect ease. He 
studied and read whatever his father studied or 
read — politics, literature, and even military tactics. 
In the latter he was so proficient that when a little 
lad in linen blouses, the regiments at Smithfield 
would mount him on a stand and make him drill the 

At the end of his collegiate life he wrote : rt The 
professors have been so good as to give me the 
first honor and also the mathematical scholarship." 


iitiffliwfc x 

; V 


^ ;V 

Theodorick Bland Pryor. 

My Day 345 

This scholarship required him to study at least one 
year in an English university. Accordingly, in the 
following autumn he was sent, through President 
McCosh's advice, to St. Peters, Cambridge Univer- 
sity. He was just nineteen when he graduated. 

He was too young and inexperienced to be a 
good manager, and soon perceived that his $1000 
would not carry him through his year. A prize 
of a Cambridge scholarship and $40 was offered. 
He worked for it and won it — binding wet towels 
around his tired brain as he worked. 

I remember one lovely June afternoon, which 
melted into a perfect moonlight evening. My little 
girls, attired in white, listened to the home music, — 
Roger, with his violin, accompanied by his mother 
on the piano my dear Aunt Mary had bequeathed 
to Gordon. A hasty ring at the door, a rush of 
eager steps, and Theo was in my arms ! We 
thought him lovely. His father proudly marked 
his fine air and, with amusement, the delicate hint of 
a rising inflection in his voice. Never were people 
so glad and proud. Once more we were all together. 

He decided not to return to England, although 
his masters at Cambridge wrote him assuring him 
that, although he " could not win a fellowship with- 
out becoming a naturalized British subject," yet he 
would " ultimately take an excellent degree." He 
entered the Columbia Law School, that he might fit 
himself to be his father's partner. 

In October he was called to a higher court. One 
warm evening he walked out " to cool off before 
sleeping," and we never saw him more ! 

34 6 My Day 

The tides bore his beautiful body to us nine days 
after we lost him, and his beloved Alma Mater 
claimed it. There he lies in the section reserved 
for the presidents and professors of the University 
— side by side with the ashes of the Edwards and 
the Alexanders that await with him the great awak- 
ening. His classmates sent to Virginia for a shaft 
of granite, and upon this stone is inscribed: "In 
commemoration of his virtues, genius, and scholar- 
ship, and in enduring testimony of our love, this 
monument is erected by his classmates." 

Of him a great future was expected. " He was," 
said one of the journals of the time, " one of the 
most gifted minds that Virginia ever produced. 
America probably had not his superior. Only 
twenty years at the time of his death, his powerful 
and mature intellect gave assurance of any position 
his ambition might covet. He was always first, and 
easily first, in any school, academy, or college that 
he entered. His powers were indeed marvellous. 
Proud of being a Virginian, his loss to the state, to 
the country indeed, is irreparable. In arms and in 
statesmanship Virginia has nothing to covet, — in 
letters a new field of glory awaits her. Pryor, fore- 
most in that field, would have filled it with the 
lustre of his fame. Oh ! what a loss, what a loss ! " 

There is a peculiar bitterness in the early blight- 
ing of such powers. But although the laurel was 
so soon snatched from his brow, he had already 
worked nobly and achieved greatly. He had done 
more in his short life than the most of us during a 
long life. Whether the end came through the 

My Day 347 

hand of violence, or from accident, he could ap- 
proach " the Great Secret " as did John Sterling, 
" without a thought of fear and with very much of 
hope." Such as he confirm our faith in immortality 
and make heaven lovelier to our thought. 

He was a victim of his father's fallen fortunes. 
Now, surely, Nemesis must be satisfied ! Innocent 
of crime, we had yet suffered full measure for the 
crime of the nation. Others had been called to 
give up their first-born sons. We had now given up 
ours ! Was it not enough ? All the joy of life was 
forever ended. Hereafter one bitter memory in- 
tensified every pang, poisoned every pleasure, — 
so clearly did our great bereavement seem to grow 
out of our misfortunes, — and all these to be the 
sequence of cruel, terrible, wicked war. 

But why should I ask my readers to listen while 
I press, " like Philomel, my heart against a thorn ! " 
We can change nothing in our lives. We must 
bear the lot ordained for us ! We need not ask 
others to suffer with us ! Grosse seelen dulden still / 

The story I am telling must end not later than 
the year 1900 — and I find no fitting place for a 
brief tribute to another brilliant son whom we lost 
after that year, unless my readers will forgive me for 
a word just here. I leave the splendid record of his 
services as a physician and surgeon, where it is safe 
to live — in the memories of his brethren at home 
and abroad. " Pryor's practice " is still quoted in 
England and France as the salvation of suffering 

34B My Day 

womanhood. But other records are written on the 
hearts of the poor and humble. "Many a night," 
said one of his hospital confreres, " with the East 
River full of ice, and snow and sleet pelting 
straight in his face, Dr. William Pryor has crossed 
in a rowboat to see some poor waif at Blackwell's 
Island upon whom he had operated, — carrying with 
him some delicacy the hospital diet-sheet did not 

He was most richly endowed, physically and men- 
tally, and he gave to suffering humanity all that God 
had given him. 

I resolved, when I consented to write this book, 
that I would not intrude my own feelings and emo- 
tions upon those who are kind enough to read my 
story. I know, alas, I am not the only one upon 
whom the tower of Siloam has fallen. We are di- 
vinely forbidden to believe ourselves more unworthy 
than those who escape such disaster. 

" The Thorny Path," a painting by P. Stachie- 
wicz, represents women toiling along a perilous path. 
On one side is a high, barren rock ; on the other a 
ghastly precipice. Safety lies only in the narrow 
path, uneven with slippery stones and thick-set with 
cruel thorns. Two women are central figures in the 
procession : one, ragged and drunken and cursing 
her lot, reels unsteadily against the flinty wall ; an- 
other treads the same path with bent head, and 
hands clasped in prayer. A white " robe of right- 
eousness " has descended upon the latter, and celes- 
tial light surrounds her head, albeit the pilgrim feet 
are unshod and torn with thorns. 

William Rice Pryor. 

My Day 349 

Sometimes a song or picture has taught us more 
than many sermons. When Christine Nilsson, 
standing firm and erect with upward look, sang " I 
know," we were thrilled and surprised into a vivid 
faith, which had burned with less fervor under the 
teaching of the pulpit. We had believed, but now 
we felt that we knew, that the Redeemer lives and 
will stand in the latter day upon the earth, and feel- 
ing this, we were comforted. 


IN 1872 Horace Greeley was nominated by the 
Democratic party for the presidency, to oppose 
General Grant's second term, and wrote to my 
husband : — 

" Dear General Pryor : — 

" I want you to help me in this canvass. I want you to 
go to Virginia and do some work for me there and at the 

" Your friend, 

" Horace Greeley." 

Mr. Greeley had at first opposed the Civil War. 
He had suffered great mental distress at its approach. 
He labored with all his might to prevent a resort to 
arms — but, when this was inevitable, he followed 
the advice of Polonius. It was he who raised the 
cry " On to Richmond," and he was thereafter a 
powerful supporter of the government. After the 
surrender, he just as strongly advocated pacific meas- 
ures, opposed the action of the federal govern- 
ment in holding Mr. Jefferson Davis a prisoner 
without trial, and, oblivious to all personal and 
pecuniary consequences, had gone to Richmond and 
in open court signed the bail-bond of the Confed- 
erate President. 

It can be easily perceived that the active support 
of a man like General Pryor — who could remember 


My Day 351 

and use to advantage these facts — might be ex- 
tremely useful to Mr. Greeley. The temptation 
appealed, with force, to my husband. Active politi- 
cal life had been his most successful, most agreeable 
occupation, but he remembered his resolution to work, 
and work in the study of his profession, and declined 
Mr. Greeley's invitation. 

" You are making a great mistake," said one of 
his friends, li in your office all day, and at home all 
night. I should like to know how you expect to 
get along ! You never make a visit — you are 
never seen at a club or any public gathering." 

" Very true," said my husband, " but I am per- 
suaded that my only hope for salvation here is to know 
something, have something the New York people 
want. They do want good lawyers, and I must study 
day and night to make myself one." 

His friend, John Russell Young, far away in 
Europe, heard of Mr. Greeley's campaign. Him- 
self an intense Republican and devoted friend of 
General Grant, he could not learn with equanimity 
of any added strength to Mr. Greeley from the 
support of the South. He wrote from Geneva, 
September 16, 1872 : — 

" Dear Pryor : — 

" I saw in the New York World that you were to make 
a speech in favor of Greeley in Virginia, and had my own 
reflections on the announcement. I should like to exchange 
observations with Mrs. Pryor on this subject, as she has 
positive political convictions. But I remember her saying 
once that darning stockings had a debilitating effect upon 
literary aspirations — and she made no reservation in favor 

352 My Day 

of politics. At the present moment I should like to en- 
list her attention and support. 

" The idea of R. A. P. — the representative fire-eater, the 
Robespierre, or Danton, or, if you like it better, the Harry 
Hotspur of the Southern Revolution, — the one orator who 
clamored so impatiently for the Shrewsbury clock to strike, 
— oh, my friend ! The spectacle of this leader champion- 
ing Horace Greeley ! Can the irony of events have a 
deeper illustration ? Miserere ! How the world is tum- 
bling ! What can we expect next ? Jefferson Davis and 
Frederick Douglass running on the presidential ticket, in 
favor of Chinese suffrage ! If you really did make a speech, 
send it to me. I suppose in your own mind you have 
made many, for events like these develop thought in the 
minds of all thinking men. I do not see Greeley's elec- 
tion. I have a letter from him written in July which speaks 
very cheerfully. But I have a letter from the White House 
quite as cheerful. I cannot think that Grant will be 
beaten ; and am certain, with all deference to Mrs. Pryor's 
positive political views, that he should not be. I can 
understand the passionate desire you and your people have 
for honest reconstruction. I can see how you might even 
fall into the arms of Horace Greeley to achieve such a de- 
liverance. But there is no honest reconstruction possible 
under Mr. Greeley and the men who would accompany 
him in power. The South has its future in its own hands. 
If the men who led it as you did had followed your example 
when the war was over, there would be no trouble. But 
that required courage — a higher courage than ever rebellion 
demanded ; and if the South has not reasserted itself, it is 
the fault of the Southern men themselves. 

" But I will not preach politics from this distance. If 
you are not in the campaign, keep out ! Run over here 
with Miss Gordon. How delighted I should be to see 
you. I am sure mademoiselle would revel in Paris. Mrs. 

My Day 353 

Young would travel with her, too, to Germany, visit all 
the famous convents and ecclesiastical establishments and, 
finally, wind up with Paris and an exhausted search through 
the shops. 

"For myself, I feel that I am having opportunities and 
neglecting them. However, I have always my work, have 
grappled with French, done something in Spanish, and have 
designs on the German language. But as you can only 
eat your artichoke a leaf at a time, French is my main 
occupation outside my business. I don't have time to play 
chess — and I presume Miss Gordon will give me a 
knight when we play next. You mustn't think me utterly 
good-for-naught. I have finished Carlyle's ' Frederick ' in 
thirteen volumes — think of that ! In the summer I dissi- 
pated in novels, — ' Don Quixote,' 'Tom Jones,' ' Roder- 
ick Random,' — and now I am about to begin 'Romola,' 
which Bayard Taylor said yesterday was the best historical 
novel in our language. Remember me most kindly to all 
at home, and believe me to be, dear Pryor, 

" Your friend sincerely, 

" John Russell Young." 

We had first known John Russell Young as a boy 
sent by Colonel Forney to report a speech of my 
husband's in Congress, now on the staff of the New 
York Herald. During a temporary residence in 
London he began a series of charming letters to my 
daughter — lasting until the end of his life. From 
London he wrote : — 

" My dear Miss Gordon : — 

" I send you two autographs — one is from Dinah 
Mulock Craik (who wrote 'John Halifax,' you know), the 
other from Mr. Gladstone, the former Premier. 

2 A 

354 My Day 

" I shall try to obtain an autograph of Carlyle, and his 
photograph, for your library. The old man is very hard to 
reach — he is very old. I have not seen George Eliot 
yet, but will. I dined with William Black last evening. 

" I have had a good time in London. I never had so much 
attention in my life — I don't know how it happened, but 
so it fell. My Macmillan article opened the door, however, 
of every newspaper and magazine to me — and the door is 
of no use, except to look inside! But fancy the people I 
have met ! — not, as I said, Carlyle or George Eliot (but 
she is possible when she comes home), but I think I have 
dined with nearly everybody else. Green — the short 
history man — and I have become good friends. I told 
him how much you liked his book, and he blushed like a 
June rose. I have dined with Huxley, Tyndall, Froude, 
Browning, Herbert Spencer, Kingsley, Bryce, Green, 
Norman Lockyer, William Black, Motley, and I don't 
know how many others, — so you see, as far as coming 
abroad has any value in enlarging one's horizon, I have not 
come in vain. You must forgive the vanity of all this, but 
when one is away from home, what can one do but write 
about one's own self? 

" I wrote your father last week that I was about to 
come home. I packed all my trunks and engaged my 
room on the Adriatic, which sails on the 25th. A cable 
comes from Mr. Bennett asking me to await his coming. 
So I have unpacked my trunk and again resigned myself to 
the London fog. If you will gently break the news to the 
retired statesman who mourns over the decadence of the 
republic, you will be a dutiful child and my very good 
friend. I am very much disappointed in not going home. 
There is a little woman whose eyes are, I suppose, sad 
enough straining through the mists for a truant lord who 
seems to wander as long as Ulysses. There are friends 
whose faces it would be sunshine to see, — and there are 

My Day 355 

duties in the way of educating public opinion on the 
question of the presidency, — all of which is only a round- 
about way of saying I am homesick, and that I would give 
the best book in my library (you see how extravagant 
I am) if it were in my power to accept an invitation from 
your mother to tea. I would even run the risk of a quarrel 
with your father on politics ! Remember me to all at 
home — to your mother with especial duty, and believe me, 
my dear Miss Gordon, 

" Always yours sincerely, 

" Jno. Russell Young." 

" P.S. — From a letter your mother has kindly written me, 
I perceive you are to visit Virginia. Now if you will only 
justify the hopes of your friends and bring back a descend- 
ant of Pocahontas or Patrick Henry or of G. W. to be a 
comfort to your father and mother, I shall feel you have 
not visited Virginia in vain. However, as that is a subject 
from which I have often been warned away by the Pryor 
family, I shall not venture to give any advice. 

" Again your friend sincerely, 

"Jno. Russell Young." 

" I am sending you," he says in another letter, " a notice- 
able article on George Eliot's work. You will observe 
the tendency to criticise, and quotations of little things to 
sustain an adverse verdict. I remember only better things. 
Of course I must acknowledge the tinge of bitterness in all 
of George Eliot's writings, but the latter-day critic brings 
a railing accusation against the artistic features of her books. 
He thinks it was a dreadful thing for Dorothea to marry a 
second time, but how trifling is all this ! I always feel 
when I have finished 'AdamBede' and 'Middlemarch' like 
saying in reverence, c Oh, Mistress ! Oh, my Queen ! ' 
for she is the mistress and queen of her art, and ought to 
be mentioned with Carlyle and Hugo." 

356 My Day 

The " chance" for which General Pryor for nine 
years had worked and waited came at last. A New 
York correspondent of the St. Louis Republican 
thus comments upon the event : " General Pryor 
borrowed the law books which he needed to begin 
the study requisite to enable him to do justice to 
his clients, and he studied as he fought — bravely. 
No man has burned more midnight oil, and from 
being no lawyer ten years ago, he has grown to be a 
most accomplished and erudite member of the bar. 
In his late great speech in the trial of Tilton against 
Henry Ward Beecher, in resisting the attempt of 
William M. Evarts, of Beecher's counsel, to prevent 
the plaintiff from testifying, General Pryor hurled 
law at the head of Mr. Evarts which the latter in 
all of his delving had not reached, and Mr. Evarts 
complimented General Pryor, not only upon the 
brilliant presentation of the law, but upon his ex- 
tended acquaintance with the authorities. His 
speech won the point for Tilton. He is known to 
be an indefatigable student. Seven hours a day he 
studies law as though he needs it all on the morrow. 
No man in New York has a more brilliant future ; 
and when it comes, no man will have so completely 
carved out his own way and made his own fortune." 

This trial against America's great preacher was 
famous at home and in England. The accusation 
of Theodore Tilton aroused a tremendous feeling 
throughout the United States and abroad wherever 
Mr. Beecher's great reputation had established itself. 
The trial lasted six months. Mr. Tilton's counsel 
were Mr. Beach, Hon. Sam Morris, Judge Fullerton, 

My Day 357 

and General Pryor. Arrayed against them were 
Hon. William M. Evarts, Hon. Benjamin Tracy, 
Thomas Shearman, and Austin Abbott. 

To General Pryor was intrusted all the delicate 
or obscure questions of law incident upon the case. 
The press of the day universally awarded him the 
highest praise for learning and thorough knowledge 
of his subject. He won a very great reputation, 
and from that time onward felt that his professional 
career was to be an active one. The impression the 
new advocate — the rebel politician and soldier 
turned lawyer — made upon the correspondents of 
the press never varied. A New York correspond- 
ent of an Ohio paper 1 thus describes him: — 

" General Pryor's reply to Mr. Evarts's was, after all, 
the greatest surprise of the day. It was so remarkable in 
many respects, that I am at a loss where to begin the 
characterization. Not an exciting topic, one would say, 
for a fiery Southern orator, to analyze the statutes of the 
state of New York on the subject of evidence from mar- 
ried people. But it was evident from the very first, though 
formal, sentence, that exploded from General Pryor's lips 
that he needed no outward occasion to minister excitement 
to his surcharged batteries of personal electricity. A dry 
legal question was provocation enough ; what he would 
do under the heat of an impassioned issue is inconceiv- 
able, if the proportions of occasion and effect were pre- 
served. His execution, to borrow a musician's term, is 
prodigious, considered merely as a tour de force. It is a 
volcanic torrent of speech. To say the enunciation is 
rapid, is nothing : it is lightning-like. The most dex- 

1 The Herald and Empire, Dayton, Ohio. 

358 My Day 

terous reporters could hardly follow him. Its nervous 
energy is equally remarkable, and seems to break out from 
every pore of his body, as well as out of his mouth, eyes, 
and ringer ends. With the legal volume in his left hand, 
the eye-glass quivering in his right, and jumping to his nose 
and off again, with or without object, like a thing of life, 
or emphasizing the utterance with thrusting gestures of its 
own ; his head thrown up, at every beginning his eyes 
shoot straight at the judge as if they would transfix him, 
and he drives onward like a Jehu rushing into battle. He 
has no moderate passages ; but perhaps he will avail him- 
self of these effects when he comes to address the jury. 
And yet, all this prodigious nervous expenditure, so far 
from drawing off the power of the brain, is only an index 
of its action ; so far from jarring the self-possession and 
sequence of thought, or the precision of conception and 
expression, it only enhances and secures all these, as sheer 
impetus sustains the equilibrium of a wheel. The diction, 
with all its headlong speed, is perfect in precision and force, 
and no less in elegance ; not an after word, not a word of 
surplusage, or a word to be bettered in revisal ; and the 
like is true of the closely knit argument." 

This picture, drawn with a bold hand, greatly 
amused the home circle in Willow Street. But then, 
we had not heard the speech! 

Charlotte Cushman. 


GORDON and I had the privilege of seeing 
Charlotte Cushman when, no longer able 
to act in the plays in which she had so dis- 
tinguished herself, she gave a reading at one of the 
large halls in New York. She was infirm, less from 
age than a malady which was consuming her. I 
found an immense audience assembled in her honor. 
There were no more seats, no more standing room. 
She had no assistants, no support. A chair behind 
a small table was all the mise en scene, and here, 
dressed in a matronly gown of black silk and lace, 
the great tragedienne seated herself. Her gray hair 
was rolled back a la Pompadour from her broad, high 
forehead, and beneath black brows her eye kindled 
as she glanced over the fine audience. As she de- 
scribed it afterward, " a modest farewell reading blos- 
somed into a brilliant testimonial." 

After our enthusiastic response to her graceful 
greeting, she said simply : " Ladies and gentlemen, 
I shall read — I trust for your pleasure, surely for 
mine," laying her hand upon her heart — "from 
the second scene in the third act of 'Henry the 

It so happened there had been, incident upon her 
appearance, a remarkable discussion in some of the 
journals of the day. The wise ones, the elect, had 
paused in their speculations as to the authorship of 


360 My Day 

Shakespeare's plays, or the Letters of Junius, or the en- 
lightenment of the nations by certain rearrangement 
of periods in Hamlet's immortal soliloquy, and had 
cast an eye of scrutiny upon Wolsey's magnificent 
monologue. To nous autres it seems clear enough 
as it is — but who are we that we should know 
the heart hidden under a red robe ? They gravely 
opined that the king, not God, was meant in the 
lines, " Had I but served my God with half the zeal," 
etc. ' Without doubt Charlotte Cushman was aware 
of this remarkable discussion. A good many backs 
were straightened to " attention " as she reached the 
noble words : — 

" . . . O Cromwell, Cromwell ! 
Had I but served my God with half the zeal 
I served my king, He would not in mine age 
Have left me naked to mine enemies." 

She pointed upward as she uttered reverently the 
word "He." 

From this, after a brief pause — she did not leave 
her seat all evening — she passed to "Much Ado 
about Nothing." Never was there such a Dog- 
berry, bursting with arrogance and ignorance. Mrs. 
Maloney, on the Chinese question, followed, dis- 
missing, with inimitable impudence, the mistress 
who had just shown her the door. Then she 
became the loyal, spirited, wildly sweet Kentucky 
girl and her blue-grass horse, Kentucky Belle, — 
utterly charming, both of them, — concluding with 
" Molly Carew." In this she was tremendous. The 
policemen at the door came in to listen ; the ap- 

My Day 361 

plause was loud and long. " Molly Carew," forsooth ! 
What is there in " Molly Carew " ? What in the en- 
treaty to take off her bonnet lest she cost her lover, 
as he declares, " the loss of me wanderin' soul," to 
bring down the house ? What in the indignant 
summing up that she had better be careful; "you'll 
feel mighty queer when you see me weddin' match- 
ing down the street an' yersilf not in it " ? 

I soon found out how much there was in Molly 
Carew per se, with no Charlotte Cushman to in- 
terpret ! I happened to have Samuel Lover's 
poems, and when I reached home, I took the book 
from the library shelves and summoned the children 
to listen to the funniest thing they had ever heard 
in all their lives. " I warn you," said I, " you'll 
half kill yourselves laughing." 

I read " Molly Carew." Round eyes opened wider 
in astonishment as I proceeded. There was not 
a smile ; not the faintest glimmer of mirth. Dead 
silence was broken by a polite " Is that all ? Thank 
you, mamma," as they escaped. Oh, genius, gift of 
the gods ! Who can measure it ? Who, not born to 
it, can hope to win it ! Who can attain even a far- 
away imitation of it ! How it can clothe and 
glorify the simplest ideas ! How it transfigured 
Charlotte Cushman — haggard and gray from keen 
physical suffering, knowing well that her hour was 
at hand ! What noble restraint in her selections, 
ignoring pain and sorrow, denying herself the tribute 
of sympathy, bidding us good night with a smile on 
her lips and words demanding an answering smile on 
ours ! 

362 My Day 

To remember Charlotte Cushman is to recall 
Madame Helena Modjeska — totally different, cer- 
tainly not inferior. I met her in society in New 
York. Her beautiful face, her tender, sensitive 
mouth, and the " far-away look of her eyes, as though 
she were thinking of the wrongs of Poland," are 
never to be forgotten. And the splendor of her 
genius ! I saw her as Ophelia to Edwin Booth's 
Hamlet. "You are as good as a Greek chorus, my 
lord," — she in a Savonarola chair, he on ?ifauteuil 
at her feet. I saw her also as Queen Catherine. I 
think she impressed all who knew her as a most 
sad woman. But is not melancholy the preroga- 
tive of genius ? I, for one, never knew a man or 
woman of genius, real genius, who was merry. 
Madame Modjeska made melancholy beautiful. 

She was once the guest of a lady who had gathered 
together a number of choice spirits in her honor. 
One of them, forgotten of her good angel, asked, 
" How do you like our country, madame ! " 

" Oh," spreading out her hands to signify empty 
space, and speaking in a weary tone, " Oh ! It is all 
— all one great level." 

" Ah, but," said her hostess, " patience ! I shall 
introduce you by and by to a little hill." 

An introduction followed, and at the close of the 
evening Madame Modjeska, pressing the hand of 
her hostess at parting, said with feeling : — 

"Ah, madame ! She was one great mountain ! " 

Before the war which cut me off from every 
pleasure demanding leisure and a little money, I 
heard the elder Booth in " Hamlet" — and I must 

Helena Modjeska. 

My Day 363 

confess he was rather a wheezy Hamlet in his old 
age. In Brooklyn the circumstances of my life for- 
bade my indulging my passion for music and the 
enjoyment of a good play, but we had tickets for 
gallery seats to see Edwin Booth when Madame 
Modjeska played with him. Afterward we saw him 
in " The Fool's Revenge," and I remember being 
quite carried away and oblivious of everything except 
his splendid acting, until the calm voice of my son re- 
called me, " Don't you think, mamma, you had better 
sit down ? " I spent a summer at Narragansett in 
the same hotel with Mr. Booth when he was resting 
his weary brain. He had a hooded chair placed in 
a corner of a veranda overlooking the sea, and there 
alone and in silence he spent most of his time. His 
devoted daughter ministered to him and carefully 
protected him from intrusion. At certain conditions 
of the tide the sands of the Narragansett beach emit 
a weird, faint, singing sound as the waves recede 
from them, — moaning, as it were, because they are 
left behind. These sounds could not be heard by 
every ear. Some eager listeners never could hear 
them. I used to wonder if Edwin Booth did, and 
wish I could ask him what they said to him. I 
might even tell him what they said to me ! But his 
" Edwina" watched him jealously, and we respected 
his evident prostration of mind and spirit. His 
place at table was near mine. A moonlight smile 
would steal over his face when his two grand- 
children, rosy little tots, came to him at dessert for 
a bit of sweet from the hand whose slightest gesture 
had once been able to move a multitude. The next 

364 My Day 

time he was brought vividly before us we were in a 
great assembly of his friends, listening to Mr. Parke 
Godwin, — his friend and ours, — as he told of the 
sun whose rise, whose splendid noon, and whose 
setting we were ever to remember. 

In the autumn of 1882 our old Southern friend, 
General R. D. Lilley, visited New York in the in- 
terests of Washington and Lee University. Colo- 
nel Mapleson, with Adelina Patti, Nicolini, and the 
famous danseuse, Cavalassi, had just arrived for a 
brilliant season at the Metropolitan Opera House. 
General Lilley sent me a letter from Colonel Maple- 
son, — which lies before me, — in which he offered 
"a grand entertainment to be given about the 3d of 
March for the endowment of scholarships in Wash- 
ington and Lee University, in which entertainment 
the leading artists of the opera would appear," and 
asked for a committee of ladies to act in concert 
with him. 

General Lilley was in a quandary. He knew no 
New York ladies. No more did I. But finally he 
won his way into the good graces of the widow of 
Governor Dix and mother of the Rev. Morgan Dix, 
who granted her drawing-room for our meetings, 
and doubtless consulted her own visiting list to 
find patronesses. When, at the general's earnest 
prayer, I went over to the first meeting, I found a 
noble band of women all enthusiasm over the proj- 
ect. I was a stranger in New York, and but dimly 
recognized the names on the committee with my own : 
Mrs. John Dix, Mrs. August Belmont, Mrs. Will- 
iam M. Evarts, Mrs. Francis R. Rives, Mrs. 

My Day 365 

John Jay, Mrs. (Commodore) Vanderbilt, Mrs. 
Vincenzo Botta, Mrs. Henry Clews, Mrs. James 
Brown Potter, Mrs. Winfield S. Hancock, and 
others, about fifty in all ! I can now easily under- 
stand that this committee had but to will a thing, 
and if it were not accomplished, the fault would not 
lie in their lack of potentiality. They had but to 
say the word. Means, overflowing means, and gen- 
erous patronage would be assured. 

Colonel Mapleson met with us at our meetings, 
which Mrs. Dix made delightful. We had ani- 
mated discussions over Mrs. Dix's tea-cups, and 
adopted fine resolutions. Patti, the colonel assured 
us, would sing, — certainly, — but she needed a vast 
deal of coaxing and mock entreaty. Then every 
day Nicolini — whom she had recently married — 
wrote us a letter presenting some difficulty which we 
must settle. The flowers we ordered were beyond 
compare — to Arditi, the orchestra leader, a large 
music scroll in white flowers, and upon this ground 
the first bars of his " II bacio " in blue violets. To 
the witch Cavalassi we voted a floral slipper, to Colo- 
nel Mapleson a silken banner of Stars and Stripes. 
What, alas ! could we do for Patti ? Could anything 
be enough ? At last we sent for Colonel Mapleson. 
" Ladies," he said, " this will be your easiest task. 
Come to the opera-house with bouquets in your 
hands or corsage, tied with cords you have taken 
from your fans, and throw them to her, impul- 
sively. There's nothing she so dotes on as to 
run all over the stage and pick up flowers, affect 
intense surprise at each new bouquet, press them 

366 My Day 

to her heart, and be utterly overcome at last as 
she runs away." 

All this was done, I learned, for I was not there 
to see ! Colonel Mapleson, however, did not for- 
get me. He sent me the monogram cut in gold of 
Washington and Lee University, and I often wear 
it as a souvenir of my charming hours with good 
Mrs. Dix and her friends. 

When I came to the city to live, I found that 
Dr. Dix, his lovely mother, and many of the ladies 
of our committee still remembered me. This was 
not the last time we were together in a benevolent 
enterprise, nor the last time Patti honored me. 
Childish as were the little arts attributed to her by 
Colonel Mapleson, she could give evidence of a big 
warm heart on occasion ! 


IN 1877 the leading citizens of Brooklyn invited 
General Pryor to deliver an address at the Acad- 
emy of Music on Decoration Day. This was 
an opportunity he had long desired, and the invita- 
tion was eagerly accepted. With great zeal and bit- 
terness some of the veterans of the Grand Army 
resented the invitation, upon which my husband 
promptly declined the honor. I do not give the 
names of the old soldiers — they have long ago been 
forgiven and are fully understood. A heated cor- 
respondence followed — one side generous, fraternal 
feeling, on the other the bleeding afresh of old, un- 
healed wounds. Finally, the general, — although 
the charm, the grace, of the compliment was all 
gone, — perceiving it would be childish and ungrate- 
ful to persist in declining to speak, consented. 

The interesting nature of the occasion, and the 
conflict it had aroused, drew a very great audience 
to the Academy of Music. My husband never 
needed notes in speaking, but this time Gordon, in 
a very large, clear hand, wrote out his address that 
he might refresh, if necessary, his memory. 

It was not necessary. He was full of fire and 
enthusiasm, and nobly gave the noble sentiments 
eagerly quoted next day by the New Tork 'Tribune. 
The closing paragraph strikes no uncertain note. It 
must have surprised his audience : — 

3 6 7 

368 My Day 

" From the vantage ground of a larger observation, with 
a more calm and considerable meditation on the causes and 
conditions of national prosperity, I, for one, cannot resist 
the conclusion that, after all, Providence wisely ordered the 
event, and that it is well for the South itself that it was 
disappointed in its endeavor to establish a separate govern- 
ment. Plain is it that, if once established, such a govern- 
ment could not have long endured. It was founded on 
principles that must have proved its downfall. It must 
soon have fallen a victim to foreign aggression or domestic 
anarchy. Nor to the reestablishment of the Union is the 
Confederate soldier any the less reconciled by the destruc- 
tion of slavery. People of the North, history will record 
that slavery fell, not by any efforts of man's will, but by 
the immediate intervention and act of the Almighty Him- 
self. And in the anthem of praise ascending to heaven 
for the emancipation of four million human beings, the 
voice of the Confederate soldier mingles its note of devout 
gratulation. And now in the unconquerable strength of free- 
dom we may hope that the existence of our blessed Union 
is limited only by the mortality that measures the duration 
of all human institutions. \_Prolonged applause.~\ " — Tribune, 
May 31. 

" General Roger A. Pryor's Decoration Day address wins 
golden opinions. It was brave, patriotic, and statesman- 
like. He grasps the situation. He does not take much 
stock in bvgones, thinks gravestones are made to leave be- 
hind and not to tie to, and would rather have a live man 
with average common sense than the biggest obituary that 
was ever written. General Pryor is one of the few men 
who have a to-morrow." — Evening Express, June 12. 

The Springfield Republican, May 31, says: — 

" The Grand Army fellows who opposed inviting Roger 
A. Pryor to deliver the address at Brooklyn yesterday 

My Day 369 

probably feel pretty well ashamed of themselves by this time. 
Certainly they would have deprived the country of a very 
desirable speech if they had succeeded in preventing his 

Broad as were the views of the ex-rebel at this 
time, the Southern papers indorsed him : — 

" General Roger A. Pryor's address on Decoration Day, at 
Brooklyn, New York, is quite remarkable. It is very brill- 
iant and very eloquent. There is logic, but it is c logic on 
fire,' as Macaulay said of Lord Chatham. There is a 
magnificent sweep in the sentences, and high and patriotic 
thought throughout. It reminds us in its glow and passion, 
in its rich and flowing rhetoric, and in its exquisite dic- 
tion of Edmund Burke's tremendous speech on the ' Nabob 
of Arcot's Debts.' We do not think any man can accom- 
pany the orator, with his kindling, intense periods and so- 
norous, ornate style, with his lofty thought and impassioned 
eloquence, without a responsive thrill of emotion and a feel- 
ing of pride that this master of speech is a Southron." 

— Wilmington (N.C.) Star. 

" The address of General Roger A. Prvor delivered on 
Decoration Day at Brooklyn, N.Y., is a brilliant pro- 
duction. Like everything emanating from him, it is full of 
fine thought and fine sentiment, with a sweeping array of 
glowing genius, all clothed in a diction simple, pure, and as 
opposite as if the idea and language had been born together 
from a brain entirely original and independent in its con- 
ceptions. The spirit of the address, too, is national, catho- 
lic, patriotic, and grandly American from beginning to end. 

" Pryor is a man of splendid parts, and Virginia has 
reason to be proud of him." — (Richmond, Va.) 

370 My Day 

The Richmond Whig paid a handsome tribute: — 

" Roger A. Pryor is a man of resplendent genius. He 
has high culture, too, and he is far from being only an ora- 
tor to excite the passions, to win applause, and to elicit 
admiration. He has comprehensiveness of brain, coupled 
with an extraordinary capacity for the nicest dialectics. As 
a writer or speaker, he should be invited to no second seat 
anywhere. He is more like William Wirt, perhaps, than 
any other of the gifted men of this country. And the day 
is not distant when, if he goes into politics again, he will 
have a national name as familiar to the North as, when he 
was a much younger man, it was to the Southern people. 

" We have no doubt he will deliver a speech of un- 
surpassed beauty and eloquence on Decoration Day in 

These are but representative quotations. The 
whole country was ready to applaud the speech. It 
was a fitting close to the first twelve years of our 
life of trial and probation. The sweetest praise of 
all came in a letter from America's great preacher, 
Richard S. Storrs : — 

" 80 Pierpont Street, 

"Brooklyn, N.Y., 

"May 31, 1877. 
" My dear General Pryor : — 

" I have read with the very greatest satisfaction and pleas- 
ure your admirable address of last evening. I sympathize, 
in fullest measure, with the delighted enthusiasm with which 
my wife and daughter spoke of the address after hearing it 
last evening, and am only more sorry than before that my 
unlucky and imperative engagement with the Historical 
Society Committee and Board forbade me to enjoy the 
splendid eloquence of utterance which they described to me. 

General Hancock. 

My Day 371 

I do not see how you could possibly have treated the theme 
which the occasion presented more delicately or more grandly 
— with a finer touch, or a more complete mastery of all its 
proper relations and suggestions. 

" It is a great address, and must have a wide and great 
effect. I only wish that all the papers would give it in its 
full extent. 

" I am faithfully and with great regard, 

" Yours, 

" R. S. Storrs." 

This address, which has been handsomely bound 
by the Brooklyn committee, was followed by in- 
vitations all over the country to speak — even from 
the Gospel Tent. But, unhappily, honor does not 
fill the basket, nor warm the body, nor pay the rent, 
nor satisfy the tax-gatherer. It is a nice, nice thing 
to have, — there's no use denying it, — but I think 
my dear general would have given it all, every bit, 
for one good, remunerative law case. 

Firmly fortified, as he persuaded himself, against 
ever again indulging in the fascinations of politics, 
his admiration for his old foe at Sharpsburg drew 
him into the Hancock campaign. 

General Hancock, the hero of Gettysburg and 
Antietam, was worth every effort of every Democrat 
in the country. He was a superb man in every re- 
spect, and we soon became his ardent friends. His 
wife was a most dear, beautiful woman, whom I 
learned to love. So charming was their simple home 
on Governors Island, I could have brought my- 
self to the point of begging the government — that 
had taken so much from me — to grant me a little 

372 My Day 

corner to live near them and their two delightful 
friends, General James Fry and his wife. 

At General Hancock's I spent much time, and 
while my general consulted with him on political 
matters, Mrs. Hancock and I would, when we could 
escape from the crowd, sympathize with each other 
as only stricken mothers can sympathize. She had 
just lost her beautiful Ada — and small indeed 
seemed the honors of this world to her. 

My general made a fine speech for General Han- 
cock, which was praised by the press as generously 
as the Decoration Day speech. It was understood 
that he would be Attorney-General in case of Han- 
cock's election. We know the result ; and I must 
confess that as the election returns were reported 
to us, I quite abandoned myself to disappointment. 
From my window next morning I could see another 
Democratic mourner, and in order to signal to her 
my state of mind, I hung a black shawl which I had 
on at the moment out of the window. Early on 
the day after the election I went with my daughter 
Gordon across the ferry to Governor's Island to as- 
sure myself of the welfare of my friends. It was 
a raw day in November, and snow was falling. We 
were the only passengers on the boat, with the ex- 
ception of two serious-looking women who carried 
a large paper box between them. " Funeral flowers," 
suggested Gordon. Upon arriving, we walked up 
to General Hancock's house, and at the door per- 
ceived our fellow-passengers had followed us. They 
entered with us, and in order to give them the right 
of way in case they were come on appointment, Gor- 

My Day 373 

don and I passed on to the back parlor, leaving 
them in the front room. Presently we heard Gen- 
eral Hancock accost them courteously, whereupon 
they arose and explained, with much solemnity, their 
errand. " General, for some time past we have been 
engaged in preparing a testimonial for you, with the 
assistance of your many admirers. Here, sir, is an 
autograph quilt," — unfolding an ample and fearful 
object, — "and upon it there are autographs of our 
celebrated men : General Grant is here, Mr. Hayes 
is here, Mr. Garfield is here ! " — General Hancock 
interrupted, " But — ladies ! Thanking you for your 
kindness, let me inform you I have been defeated — 
your offering was probably designed for the elected 
President." With warm vehemence they both pro- 
tested : " Oh, no, no. General ! We are Democrats ! 
No, sir ! No Republican is ever going to sleep 
under this quilt if we can help it!" "Ah, well, 
then," said the general, " I suppose I can do noth- 
ing more than thank you. Yes, I can call Mrs. 
Hancock. She will say how much we appreciate 
your kindness." 

Passing through the back parlor, he espied us. 
" Oh, Mrs. Pry or ! Hang it all ! " he ruefully ex- 
claimed, as he went aloft. When Mrs. Hancock 
took charge of the situation, he returned to us. 

" And so the general has sent you over to repre- 
sent him at the funeral ! Tell him I am all right; 
but by the bye, how many people came over with 

" Those two," indicating the party now descant- 
ing to Mrs. Hancock upon the fine collection of 

374 My Day 

" Had the result been different, a fleet could not 
have brought them all ! However, the canes are 
coming in as well as the quilts. We shall not lack 
for fire-wood this winter, nor for covering." 

Mrs. Hancock was soon relieved of her kind 
friends, and both she and the general accompanied 
us on a "little walk" proposed by him. "I shall 
not be lonely here," he told us ; "a new ship comes 
in sight every day ; and I've plenty to do. I must 
have all these leaves swept up, too. I'm a happier 
man than Garfield this day. Only," he added sadly, 
" I cannot reward my friends." 

Mrs. Hancock opened the gate of her little garden 
and gathered a souvenir posy for Gordon, and so we 
parted from the two — so great, so dignified in the 
hour of defeat. 

When I reached home, it was well I had a dou- 
ceur for my general. He held in his hand the New 
York Tribune of the day, and pointed an indignant 
finger to a communication in which the public was 
warned against the incendiary principles of " persons 
in the family of a noted Southern lawyer, now resi- 
dent on Brooklyn Heights, who had, in the moment 
of the nation's rejoicing, displayed in a window a 
piratical flag, deep-bordered and ominous." My 
poor little jest with my neighbor ! My humble 
black shawl ! 

Having had an invitation to lunch with Mrs. 
Grant at the Fifth Avenue Hotel next day, I thought 
it wise, as well as agreeable, to accept, seeing I had 
been published as a suspicious character. I needed 
Republican support. 

My Day 375 

I told Mrs. Grant of my interview with General 
Hancock. "Nice fellow! Nice fellow!" she ex- 
claimed with feeling. " You know I'm a Democrat," 
she said. " What's more, I'm Secesk, particularly 
as the Republicans wouldn't nominate Ulysses for 
a third term." 

" Oh, but," said I, " you mustn't forget the story 
of the Fisherman and the Flounder." 

She had never heard the story of Dame Isabel, 
the fisherman's ambitious wife, and laughed heart- 
ily over the application to herself. " All the same," 
she protested, " I was not unreasonable — I didn't 
wish to be Lord of the spheres — only wife of the 
President of one country." 

A short time before this the (Massachusetts) 
Springfield Republican was kind enough to lend a 
helping hand, in the guise of a kind word to my 
dear general, which was quoted by the New York 
Times, January 22, 1878. That I should have 
preserved it so many years, fully asserts my apprecia- 
tion of the paper's kindness. 

" The New York correspondent of the Springfield (Mas- 
sachusetts) Republican writes : ' Roger Pryor is pegging 
away very quietly in his law office, with increasing business, 
though it is not of a very conspicuous character nor very 
remunerative, I imagine, for he does a great deal of work 
for poor people ; but he sticks so closely to his business 
that comparatively few people know that he is here, and 
one of the most characteristic representatives of the Southern 
statesman. He is in constant communication with leading 
Southern men, and knows the true inwardness of the South- 
ern feeling and policy in regard to "scaling " the state debts. 

376 My Day 

He is an intense anti-rupudiationist, and the very thought 
of a thing so dishonorable makes him shiver with rage. 
But he is fully persuaded that the Southern people are de- 
termined to cut down their obligations materially, and throw 
overboard the carpet-bag debts altogether, if possible. He 
thinks that when the federal government required the 
Southern people to repudiate their Confederate war debts, it 
taught them a lesson in repudiation which they are now 
disposed to better. The public men of the South have not 
done their duty in frowning down this feeling and teaching 
the people a better policy, to say nothing of honesty. Pryor 
is the soul of honor, is chock full of the old-fashioned Vir- 
ginia chivalric sentiment, and altogether too high-minded 
and large-thoughted to mix himself with our local politics. 
And all the democrats who know him and are not politi- 
cians agree that he ought to be in Congress.' " 

He was ardently opposed to repudiation, and 
has often expressed indignation that the South was 
required to repudiate its Confederate war debts. 
As to his being in Congress, he was offered a few 
years later the nomination by Tammany, which 
would have meant sure election — but how could he 
pay the assessment demanded by that organization ? 
Because he could not, he was compelled to decline 
the honor of going back to his old seat from the 
state of his adoption. 

Mrs. Grant did me the honor to invite me to a 
reception she was giving " to meet General and Mrs. 
Sheridan." " Of course you'll not go," my hus- 
band suggested. " How can you meet General 
Sheridan?" "Why not?" I said. "If he can 
stand it, I can." 

General Sheridan. 

My Day 377 

When Mrs. Grant presented me, the little general 
— he was shorter than I — was at first too much 
astonished for speech. He had hardly supposed 
when he parted from me in the house where, in 
order that he might escape annoyance, I had been 
kept by him literally in durance vile, that our next 
meeting would be in the drawing-rooms of the wife 
of his commander. I gave him time to realize all 
this, and then I asked him gently, " Do you re- 
member me, General Sheridan ? " 

In a moment both hands grasped mine. "Indeed, 
indeed I do, dear lady — and I am grateful to Mrs. 
Grant for giving me this opportunity to tell you 
that no man in this country more cordially rejoices 
at General Pryor's success than I do." He then 
recalled Lucy, and bantered her on having grown 
" taller than General Sheridan." But the crowd 
pressed in, and there was no time for more reminis- 
cences of those terrible ten days in Petersburg. 
Mrs. Grant called to W. W. Story and bade him 
take care of me. " She has never seen Ulysse ! " 
she exclaimed. " Keep her until six o'clock. He 
promised me to come then." Mr. Story, with 
his beautiful classic face, — nobodvcould be as charm- 
ing, — found a great many delightful things to say to 
us, and when our hostess claimed us, General Grant 
having arrived, he gallantly laid his hand upon his 
heart and said : " I shall not forget you ! You and 
your daughter are photographed here." 

Although I had visited Mrs. Grant, I had never 
seen the general. True, I had received many em- 
phatic messages from him, but he had then re- 

378 My Day 

quired no answer. [ began to wonder what I 
should find to say to him — to plan something very 
gentle and pleasing in return for his fire and brim- 
stone. I remembered that he had once told one 
of my friends that he often regretted he had never 
studied medicine instead of military tactics. Clearly, 
if it could be brought about by a little skilful man- 
agement, no more fitting response to the sulphurous 
remarks he had made to me at Petersburg could 
be imagined than something akin to the healing 

" This is Ulysse, Mrs. Pryor," said Mrs. Grant, 
and my hour had come. He stood silent, throw- 
ing, after the manner of men, the burden of conver- 
sation upon the woman before him. Every idea 
forsook me ! I did not, like Heine in the presence 
of Goethe, remark upon the excellent flavor of the 
plums at Jena, but I found nothing better to say 
than "How is it, General, that you permit Mrs. 
Grant to call you Ulysse ? " 

" Perhaps from imitation," he replied ; cc I know 
a general whose wife calls him Roger." 

He was so simple, so kind, that everything went 
easily after this. I could not stifle the recollection of 
all I had suffered at his hands, but I had something 
for which to thank him. We had been invited to 
accompany him in his private car when he went to 
Hartford to attend the second marriage of Mr. John 
Russell Young. All my life I have been so malapro- 
pos as to welcome with tears the bride coming to take 
the place of a wife whom I had loved, and this time 
the tears had been on the wedding day so abundant 

My Day 379 

I was in no condition to go with General Grant. 
My youngest school-girl daughter took my place. 
At every stop on the road crowds collected to see 
General Grant, and, with my Fanny on his arm, he 
went out on the platform to return the greeting. 
Now I could tell him of her pride in the occasion. 
"The pride was all mine," he said; "an old fellow 
with such a beautiful girl on his arm had something 
to be proud of." 

" There's a very beautiful girl near us," I said to 
Mrs. Grant, " the dark-eyed lady in rose moire." 

" Why, that's Fred's wife," she answered. " Yes, 
she is beautiful, and we are all proud of her ; " add- 
ing, with a humorous expression, " It has always been 
hard for me — this admiration of beauty." 

" Do you not care for beauty ? " I asked. " Care 
for it ? I worship it ! I used to cry when I was 
a little girl because I was so ugly. c Never mind, 
Julia,' my dear mother would say, * you can be my 
good little girh' I used to wish I could ever once 
be called her c pretty little girl.' " 

But no face as thoroughly kind and good as hers 
can ever be plain. After all, is it ever the prettiest 
faces that are nearest our hearts ? Having known 
Mrs. Grant for many years, I can truly say I have 
seen no woman so free from ostentation or affecta- 
tion. Kindness of heart, genuine, sincere desire to 
make others happy, patience in adversity, — these are 
the traits of mind, manner, and heart that won for her 
so many warm friends. No other American woman 
has ever been so much feted and honored as she. 
Most of us have had our little hour — a part of the 

380 My Day 

world we live in has at one time or another turned 
upon us eyes of applauding affection, but she stood 
beside her husband at every foreign court in Europe, 
presiding on occasions when he held private audience 
with the greatest potentates of the world. Nothing 
seemed to mar her perfect simplicity — her admirable 
self-forgetfulness. I was engaged one day in taking 
a frugal luncheon — tea, toast, a dozen oysters — 
in my tiny basement dining-room, when Mrs. Grant's 
card was handed me. 

Running upstairs and saying to my daughter, 
"Mrs. Grant must have a cup of tea," I was sur- 
prised to find the general seated near the door. 
After the greeting, he said gravely, " I don't see why 
I can't have a cup of tea as well as Mrs. Grant." 

" I will send it to you, General ! The doorway 
on the stair is too low for you to go down." 

" It must be pretty low," he replied ; " I've a 
mind to try it. I've stooped my head for less." 

We divided the dozen oysters among us, brewed 
more tea, made more toast and enjoyed the meal — 
the general inquiring kindly of news from my hus- 
band, who was in England, having been sent by 
the Irish-Americans to see what could be done for 
O'Donnell, the Irish prisoner. 

After there was no more to be expected at the 
lunch table, we adjourned to the library and I pro- 
duced the met bullets my boys had found at Cot- 
tage Farm. 

He laid it on the palm of his hand and looked 
at it long and earnestly. 

" See, General," I said, " the bullets are welded 

My Day 381 

together so as to form a perfect horseshoe — a 
charm to keep away witches and evil spirits." 

But the general was not interested in amulets, 
charms, or evil spirits. After regarding it silently 
for a moment, he remarked : — 

" Those are minie balls, shot from rifles of equal 
caliber. And they met precisely equidistant to a 
hair. This is very interesting, but it is not the only 
one in the world. I have seen one other, picked 
up at Vicksburg. Where was this found, and when ? " 
he asked, as he handed the relic back to me. " At 
Petersburg, possibly." 

"Yes," I answered; "but not when you were 
shelling the city. It was picked up on our farm 
after the last fight." 

He looked at me with a humorous twinkle in his 
eye. "Now look here," he said, "don't you go 
about telling people I shelled Petersburg." 

A short time before his death, just before he was 
taken to Mount McGregor, he dictated a note to 
me, sending his kind regards to my general, and 
saying he remembered with pleasure his talk with 
me over a cup of tea. 

There is something very touching in all this as I 
remember it now — his illness so bravely borne. 
His death occurred not very long afterward. No 
widow ever mourned more tenderly than did Mrs. 
Grant. I saw her only once before she went to 
sleep beside him in the marble temple on the river- 
side, and she touched me by her patient demeanor. 
I had a friend very close to her in her later days 
to whom she loved to talk of her general, — when 

382 My Day 

they met, how he proposed to her. They were 
riding together, crossing a rough place in the road. 
Her horse stumbled and threw her. The general 
caught her in his arms and said he was " glad to safe- 
guard her then, and would be proud to do so to the 
end." She said when he came on his wooing there 
were members of her family who looked askance at 
the undersized chap. " Nothing of him but eyes 
and epaulets," Longstreet was quoted as saying 
of him one evening at a tea-and-toast euchre 
party. This seems to have been the opinion of 
some of Julia Dent's people, but not of her far- 
seeing mother, to whom the maiden's dismay was 
confided. "Julia, you should marry that young 
officer, say what they will about his clumsiness 
and awkward ways ! He is far above any of the 
young fellows who come here. He will one day be 
President of the United States." 

My sisters at the South would, in these early days, 
have resented these words of appreciation of General 
and Mrs. Grant. Not one iota the less did my alle- 
giance fail to my dear commander in his modest tomb, 
guarded perpetually night and day by a son of Vir- 
ginia, because I could perceive the tender side, the 
heroic side, of a foeman worthy of his steel. 


N October, 1883, General Pryor was sent 
to England, as counsel to defend Patrick 
O'Donnell, who had been indicted for the mur- 
der of James Carey, and was now imprisoned in 
London. Carey had been one of the leaders of the 
Irish " Invincibles " in 1881, and was an accomplice 
in the assassination of Mr. T. H. Burke and Lord 
Frederick Cavendish in Phcenix Park. He was 
arrested on January 13, 1883, and turned queen's 
evidence. In order to escape the vengeance of the 
" Invincibles," he was secretly shipped for the Cape 
under the name of "Power." His plan of escape 
was discovered, and he was secretly followed by 
Patrick O'Donnell, who shot him before the vessel 
reached its destination. 

The prisoner was an American citizen, and it 
was thought proper by some of his personal friends 
to have American counsel assist the local lawyers in 
his defence. There was no political signification in 
General Pryor's being retained. He was aware 
that objection would be urged against his appear- 
ance in an English court. There was no prece- 
dent for his encouragement. The case of Judah P. 
Benjamin did not apply. Mr. Benjamin had been 
born a British subject and had "eaten his dinners" 
at the Temple. Only by an act of courtesy on the 
part of the judge could General Pryor hope for a 


384 My Day 

hearing. He wrote me, en route, on board the Scythia, 
October 17 : — 

" An Irish barrister on board has been my most con- 
stant companion, — a very intelligent gentleman is he, — 
and I am assured by him that I cannot be admitted to ap- 
pear in Court, the rule of Court excluding from practice 
any but members of the Bar. This does not surprise me. 
I can be usefully employed in consultation and suggestion. 
I have industriously read in the law of homicide, and on 
those topics I consider myself an expert." 

Meanwhile the newspapers were interested in the 
novel experiment of sending an American lawyer to 
defend an American citizen in England, and search- 
ing for some hidden reason for the selection of General 
Pryor. " Simply because of his daring spirit," said 
one. " He will speak out as another would hesi- 
tate to speak." " Not so," said the editor of the 
Irish World; "General Pryor was selected on ac- 
count of his ability as a lawyer. I know, of no 
man who can better represent the American bar. 
O'Donnell is an American citizen, and General 
Pryor will defend him as an American citizen." A 
would-be wit in England replied, " He was selected 
because he was prior to all others — take notice — 
this is registered." 

The New York Times, November 8, 1883, reminds 
the public that " an English barrister would have no 
standing in an American court, except by a stretch 
of courtesy which would be rather violent. To 
give audience in court to a foreign counsel would 
be a great novelty in any country." 

My Day 385 

The London Times commented on the matter and 
said, " It is probable that Mr. Pryor will be permitted 
to give the accused man all possible assistance short 
of taking a public part in the conduct of the case." 
Chief Justice Coleridge, recently returned from this 
country, where he had been the recipient of many 
kindly courtesies, was at once interested, and took 
an early opportunity to consult leading English 
jurists regarding certain amendments in the form of 
procedure in the courts, the admission of foreign 
lawyers being one of the points discussed. A 
correspondent of the Brooklyn Eagle visited my 
husband in England and wrote to the paper : — 

" I called on General Pryor this morning. He is snugly 
housed at the Craven Hotel in Craven Street, hard by 
Charing Cross and within a minute's walk of the American 
Exchange. I found him immersed in papers relating to the 
case, but with sufficient leisure to greet a fellow-country- 
man (and an old client en passant) with his customary 

"Legally, the general has had a hard time of it here, — 
of which more anon, — but socially he has been the recipi- 
ent of extraordinary marks of English favor. His romantic 
career as a soldier and as a lawyer is known to everybody, 
and invitations to club breakfasts and the dinner-tables of 
great men have poured in upon him. So far, he has ac- 
cepted none of these, having been entirely preoccupied by 
the preparation of O'Donnell's defence, which, as I under- 
stand from other sources, is largely General Pryor's. Origi- 
nally it was understood that the trial should occur in October, 
but it has been postponed again and again, and the general's 
great regret is that he was not able to get back to vote. 

" Speaking to me on this subject to-day, a prominent 


386 My Day 

member of the English bar said : ' My dear fellow, General 
Pryor is not an exception to the rule. He is simply a promi- 
nent instance of its operation. You may not be aware 
that neither a Scotch nor an Irish barrister is allowed to 
plead in English courts. If we were to make any excep- 
tion at all, it would certainly be made in favor of General 
Pryor, who is known to and liked by us all.' 

" ' But,' I asked, ' how about his appearance in court as 
a matter of courtesy ? ' 

" ' There is no such thing possible, and not even the 
judge has power to extend it. The Benchers of the Inns 
are the authority, and even the objection of a single bar- 
rister would be fatal.' " 

The English papers were, as a class, against his 
appearance. The St. James Gazette had long articles 
on the subject, in one of which the question is thus 
settled : — 

" The case of American counsel claiming audience in a 
criminal trial arousing passionate political interest in cer- 
tain circles is admirably calculated to demonstrate the ex- 
cellence of the rule which the Irish-Americans were anxious 
to have broken, — as they supposed in their interests. The 
only motive which O'Donnell could have for wishing (if he 
does wish it) to be heard through foreign counsel would be 
that that counsel should say or do something which Eng- 
lish counsel cannot say or do. For, however great General 
Pryor's fame may be in his own country, we have no reason 
to suppose that he is gifted with eloquence or persuasive 
powers so remarkable that he might be relied upon to 
move the hearts of an Old Bailey jury impervious to the 
tried abilities of Mr. Charles Russell and the earnest flu- 
ency of Mr. A. M. Sullivan. Let us consider, then, what 
it is which these gentlemen could not do, and General 

My Day 387 

Pryor, if he got the chance, could do. The principal 
thing is that he could more or less defy the judge, and 
instigate the jury to override the law or take a wrong view 
of the evidence." 

The Gazette little knew the manner of man under 
discussion. " Defy the law," indeed ! He wrote 
me October 25 : — 

" As I have informed you, a rule of the Bar excludes 
any but an English barrister from appearing professionally 
in the courts. I will not allow a motion to be made that 
I be heard in the case, for I do not choose to solicit a 
favor, nor to incur the hazard of a rebuff, nor to expose the 
American Bar to the incivility which would be involved in 
rejecting such an application from one of its members. My 
presence, however, is not without good effect, nor have my 
services been unimportant. Indeed, I may say to you that 
already I have rendered inestimable service to my client." 

Meanwhile Sir Charles Russell, afterward Lord 
Chief Justice of England, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. 
Guy, of the British bar, and Roger A. Pryor, of the 
American bar, worked faithfully, earnestly, and zeal- 
ously, step by step, for the unfortunate prisoner. 
O'Donnell was a poor, ignorant man, who could not 
write his own name. In this country he had been a 
teamster in the Federal army during the Civil War. 
For a long time his countryman who had come so 
far to help him was not allowed to see him. Finally, 
this much was granted — and of great comfort to the 
doomed man were the sympathetic visits of my 
tender-hearted husband. His trial ended as every- 
body knew it must. 

388 My Day 

General Pryor felt keenly the embarrassment of 
his position, but before he left England nearly every 
club was open to him, and many dinners given in 
his honor by Lord Russell, members of the bar, 
Mr. Justin McCarthy and other literary men in 

" At the royal geographical dinner," he writes, " I sat 
beside Lord Houghton, and opposite Lord Aberdeen, with 
both of whom I had pleasant talk. Other eminent men 
were there. Invitations followed which I must decline, in- 
finitely to my regret, but I cannot neglect the business on 
which I came. A dinner is offered me in Dublin. Last 
evening, however, I was glad to dine with Charles Russell, 
CXC, and Sunday I drive with him to Richmond. He pays 
me every possible attention, and I can see relies upon me 
in the conduct of the case. I live as retired as possible. My 
clients cannot suspect me of yielding to British blandish- 
ments ! I have had interesting interviews with my poor 
client, in compliance with his urgent entreaty. He was 
very grateful to me and cheered by my presence." 

He received marked kindness from Dr. Rae, the 
Arctic explorer, who had made important discoveries 
in King William's Land and found traces of Sir 
John Franklin ; also in 1864 had made a telegraphic 
survey across the Rocky Mountains. Dr. Rae gave 
several delightful dinners to my husband, inviting 
him to meet Huxley, Sir John Lubbock, and sundry 
notable chemists and inventors. " Come to us Sat- 
urday at half-past seven," he wrote from Kensington, 
" a handsome [sic] should bring you in a little over 
half an hour if the beast is good." At Dr. Rae's he- 
met Mathilde Blind, " a brilliant woman, a Jewess ; 

My Day 389 

and Justin McCarthy, a shy, silent man, spectacled 
and quite like a professor." Dining at the Cafe 
Royal, " who should come in and sit opposite to us 
but the Baroness Burdett-Coutts and her spouse. 
She is surprisingly juvenile in appearance — not at all 
as she has been represented. Her voice is quite 
girlish, and she moves with wonderful agility," etc. 

He also met Miss Shaw, who was conducting a 
bevy of American girls for a tour of European 
travel. Some contretemps arose which made her 
grateful for his conduct and assistance. The par- 
ticular young lady whom he had the honor of es- 
corting and assisting was Miss Stanton. It suddenly 
occurred to him that this might be the daughter of 
his old enemy, Edwin M. Stanton. The young 
lady innocently answered his question affirmatively. 
She had been the identical baby girl that, eighteen 
years before, Stanton had held in his arms as he de- 
clared, " Pryor shall be hanged ! " My general 
might have done several things: he might have left 
her alone in a London street to the mercy of ruffians; 
he might have used, in a dark corner, the tiny pistol 
he carried ; he might have drowned her in the 
Thames ; he might have surprised her by increased 
devotion and care for her comfort. He chose the 
last, heaping coals of fire upon her unconscious 
head ! 

Before he returned he visited places peculiarly in- 
teresting to him as a scholar, all of which he de- 
scribed to me charmingly. As far as in him lay he 
trod the paths, so sacred to him, once trod by the 
lumbering feet of the one Englishman he adores 

390 My Day 

above all others, Dr. Sam Johnson : sitting at the 
desk where he wrote his dictionary and marvelling 
at the meanness of the desk, looking out of his win- 
dows, walking with him and with Boswell along the 
familiar streets. He also stood on the spot where 
Blackstone delivered his immortal lectures, and on 
the very spot where Latimer and Cranmer suffered, — 
the students at that moment playing near it a vigor- 
ous game of football, — all this, and much more, 
so natural in a scholar visiting for the first time the 
London of which he knew every spot haunted by 
the great spirits of the literary world. 

After he returned home, he received a long letter 
from Lord Russell, telling him that he (Russell) had 
been sharply criticised for the conduct of O'Donnell's 
case, and accused of having managed it in a negli- 
gent and lukewarm manner. He wished his Ameri- 
can colleague's candid opinion on the subject, and 
also requested his photograph, adding, " I am send- 
ing you mine." 

General Pryor answered him cordially and was 
glad he could say, " I consider that you defended 
O'Donnell with the utmost zeal and enthusiasm, 
and with consummate skill ! " It seems the queen's 
counsel was sensitive as well as able. He was 
afterwards made Lord Chief Justice of England. 


THE circle that finally gathered around the 
fireside in the little library at 157 Willow 
Street was long remembered by some of the 
men who made it brilliant. John G. Saxe, whom we 
had known in Washington, was one of these men. 
Thither also came the Southern author, William 
Gilmore Simms. I remember one evening spent in 
our tiny library with Mr. Simms, John R.Thompson, 
and General Charles Jones, when the trio of literary 
men told stories, — not war stories, — ghost stories. 
Mr. Thompson recalled a ghost I had known of 
myself and feared when a child, — the ghost of the 
University of Virginia that announced its coming 
by a sudden wind bursting open the doors, passed 
through the room, and walked off across the lawn to 
the mountains. His deep foot-tracks could be dis- 
cerned in the soft sod, and with snow on the ground 
these deep tracks could be seen to grow under his 
invisible feet as he strode onward. Well do I re- 
member nights when this ghost "walked." But 
General Jones had a better story. His was a visi- 
ble ghost, an old lady, whose contested will he was 
reading one night, who appeared at the challenged 
point, looked at him solemnly, and then vanished ! 
Mr. Simms positively declined to mention his own 
private ghost after these two thrilling visitations. 
We had an interesting visit from Percy Greg, son 

392 My Day 

of the English author. Mr. Greg brought as a pres- 
ent to my general the proof-sheets of his father's 
" Warnings of Cassandra," in which my husband dis- 
covered an error ; and according to his lifelong belief 
that all errors in the English language are crimes 
which must be corrected, he proceeded to enlighten 
Mr. Greg. " Your father has made a mistake — a 
slight one — which he can correct in the next edi- 
tion. He uses the word ( internecine ' where he 
clearly means ' intestine.' ' Our guest dropped his 
under jaw, stared, and reddened. An American cor- 
recting an Englishman's English ! He had, I know, 
respect for my husband's courage, but he had not 
expected rebel guns to be turned on him in this 

" This was a length, I trow, 
A rebel's daring could not go," 

if I may paraphrase Gilbert in the Bab Ballads ! 

But we had more eminent guests than these, — the 
divines of the City of Churches, and her learned 
judges. Foremost and most cordial of all were the 
old generals of the Grand Army of the Republic : 
General Hancock, General James Fry, General 
Slocum, General Grant, General Tracy — a some- 
time foe in field and forum ; and later General Sher- 
man, General Fitz-John Porter, General Butterfield, 
and General McClellan were added to our list of 

Among my husband's earliest clients was General 
Benjamin F. Butler, who employed him to defend 
his son-in-law, Hon. Adelbert Ames, when the 
latter was impeached by the state of Mississippi. 

My Day 393 

In the families of these distinguished men we 
soon found friends, and to these were added many 
others. Brooklyn was noted for its refined and 
cultivated society, and on Brooklyn Heights many 
of its most prominent citizens lived, men whose 
names are not yet forgotten : Professor and Mrs. 
Eaton, our first and dearest friends ; Mr. Abbot 
Low, — whose splendid monument is the library of 
Columbia University, — his charming wife and daugh- 
ters and his accomplished sons, one of whom was 
late President of Columbia University and mayor of 
New York ; Dr. Henry van Dyke, whose name is 
famous in two continents as scholar, writer, and 
orator of high distinction ; John Roebling, the brill- 
iant engineer, architect, and builder of the great 
Brooklyn Bridge, whose beautiful wife was sister of 
our friend, General Warren ; the Hon. S. B. Chitten- 
den and his wife, a grand dame of the old school ; 
the family of our minister to the Court of St. 
James, Mr. Pierrepont ; Mr. and Mrs. Alanson 
Trask, foremost in all good works ; Mr. Henry 
K. Sheldon, who gave artistic musicals ; Mrs. John 
Bullard, the patroness of art and leader in society ; 
Mr. and Mrs. Allen, who gave a lovely daughter to 
be the wife of Dr. Holbrook Curtis ; Mr. and Mrs. 
George L. Nichols, with a most dear and charming 
family of sons and daughters ; one known to the 
world to-day — at home and abroad — as Katrina 
Trask, the brilliant author, poet, and accomplished 
chatelaine; Mrs. Alice Morse Earle, now one of 
America's charming writers ; Mrs. Louise Chandler 
Moulton ; and Grace Denio Litchfield, then a beautiful 

394 M y Da y 

young lady, and now a gifted author. These are but a 
representative few of the interesting men and women 
who were kind enough to visit us. A multitude of 
lovely young girls gathered around my school-girl 
daughters ; and when all the army of men turned out 
on New Year's Day to observe — as they did reli- 
giously — the old-time custom of making calls, the 
little house on Willow Street showed symptoms 
of bursting ! 

All of these were Northern people, and many of 
them from New England, — the New England we 
had been taught to regard as the stronghold of our 
enemies. There was not a Southern-born man or 
woman among them. We had always considered 
the New Englander upright, narrow, and thorny ! 
Transplanted to Brooklyn, we found him upright 
indeed, but as harmless as a thornless rose. 

Many of these delightful people in time crossed 
the East River and pitched their tents in New York 
— and many have crossed the river that flows close 
to the feet of all of us ; and so I imagine society in 
what is now known as the Borough of Brooklyn has 
formed new systems revolving around new suns. 
I sometimes read the old names in the society 
columns of the Brooklyn journals, and the old 
pictures rise before me, delightful and never to be 

The time had now come, however, when it was 
imperative for General Pryor to live in New York, 
the city where he had commenced his work and 
had always kept his office. The first of May found 
us in a small house on 33d Street. 

My Day 395 

A letter written by me in the following August 
gives my opinion of New York as a summer resort. 

" My dear Agnes : — 

" The colonel declares he means to bring you to New 
York, and wishes me to give you my own impressions of 
this place. Well, all I have to say is ' pray that your 
flight be not in summer ! ' Anything like the heat and 
desolation of this town in summer cannot be imagined. 
Everybody leaves it. I am living in a tiny house in the 
heart of the city — and a very hard heart it is ! On one 
side of me is the rear of a great hotel, its kitchens and ser- 
vants' offices overlooking me. Really, I had as soon hear 
shrieking shells as the clatter they make with their pots 
and pans. Behind me is a sash and blind factory yielding 
dust and noise unspeakable. On the other side a dreadful 
man has planted a garden, wherein he has spread an awning, 
and there he holds his revels — his card and wine parties. 
Of course I can but listen to him more than half the sti- 
fling hot nights, but should I remonstrate, it is not improb- 
able he might inform me that this is a free country, which 
I doubt. Lucy and Fanny fortunately are far away in 
Virginia, and so I am spared the added discomfort of 
suffering through their nerves. 

" This town is as completely metamorphosed in summer 
as if it had changed places with some struggling, dusty 
manufacturing city, — building and digging going on 
everywhere ; ugly dirt-carts, instead of flower-crowned 
ladies in landaus, passing through the dusty streets. You 
might, perhaps with reason, suggest that I seem to have 
leisure, — that this is a fine opportunity to read and improve 
my mind. Yes, I know, but somehow I have lost all de- 
sire to improve my mind ! My present inclination is to 
gratify the mind I already have, — go somewhere, see some- 
thing, hear some really fine music ! 

396 My Day 

" Here there is nothing to be seen except unhappy fellow- 
mortals panting beneath the burden of city existence ; street 
arabs making free with the front doorstep and improvising 
tables for their greasy luncheons ; pathetic organ-grinders 
who lift melancholy eyes for recognition and reward, after 
harrowing the soul with despairing strains — 'Miserere,' 
'Ah, I have sighed to rest me,' and such; unmuzzled 
little animals in mortal terror of the dog-catcher; tired, 
patient horses who know not their own strength, and 
quietly obey that other creature with so much less power 
and so much more selfishness. All this is not cheerful to 
the looker-out, and having seen it once, I look no more. 
But I have lately made a discovery. My upper-story 
window presents an interesting and instructive landscape. 
There is a low-roofed stable between the hotel and the 
factory. I can look over a great flat tin roof where snowy 
garments are always drying, and upon which, like ' Little 
Dorritt's ' lover, I can gaze ' until I 'most think they 
wuz groves.' Moreover, there is a happy woman who 
comes up through a trap-door and walks much under the 
shadow of those groves. How do I know she is happy? 
Partly by the patter of her busy feet, partly by the bit of 
song that floats to me ' whiles.' But chiefly because I 
have actually found out all about her while I have leaned 
idly out of my window. First, she is very good — this 
dweller beneath the flat roof. 

" On Sunday evenings she tunes up a little melodeon in 
her regions below, and sings straight through the Moody 
and Sankey hymn-book. Nor is this all. For a time I 
could not discover whether she was wife, maid, or mother, 
and I felt much anxious solicitude in her behalf. But lately 
she has brought up to the roof in the evenings a small 
rocking-chair of the Mayflower pattern, some crochet or tat- 
ting ; and a great cat with an enormous upright tail has fol- 
lowed her, and rubbed himself comfortably against her knees. 

My Day 397 

"She is a blessed little old maid — that's just what she 
is ! But the cat is not the only ' follower.' A wholesome- 
looking Englishman (side-whiskers, fresh complexion, china 
aster in buttonhole) comes now and then. The little May- 
flower chair rocks a bit more nervously, the cat is over- 
whelmed with surprise by receiving a slight push from the 
tidy slipper, the tatting takes on new energy, and I see — 
well, now, you surely don't expect me to tell you what I 
see ? Nothing very dreadful nor altogether unusual in the 
sphere of my happy woman and the British coachman, who 
has her in his ' heye ' and is surely going to have her in his 
'ome by and by. 

" But when my tired general comes home to me and 
keenly scans my face to discover whether I am pining for 
the pines or sighing for the sea, I cannot disgrace myself 
in his eyes by revealing my low interest in my happy 
woman. Least of all reveal my own loneliness ! I show 
him the lovely little window-box where I have a climbing 
nasturtium, a morning-glory, and a curious strong vine that 
has prehensile fingers at the end of every cluster of leaves. 
I show him the curious ways of these strong climbers — 
how the nasturtium has no tendrils, but a great fleshy stalk 
to be supported, and so when it grows too tall to stand 
alone, it puts forth at intervals a leaf with a mission ; as 
soon as this leaf feels the touch of the string, it contracts 
and wraps its brittle stalk thrice around it — in and out, as 
you would wind your ball of silk. And how the great long 
feelers of the morning-glory behave just like ourselves. 
They look abroad for something to lean upon, waving rest- 
lessly to and fro. Finding nothing, they deliberately turn 
and lean upon themselves ! 

" My general pities me because the square of blue sky 
into which I am always looking is so small. But I tell 
him of all the glories and marvels I have seen there, be- 
tween the high stone dwellings that shut it in : how a rain- 

398 My Day 

bow spanned it once ; how my Lady Moon looks down in 
some of her phases and tells me of her hard life of hopeless 
bondage — while mine is but for a little time ; how the 
Pleiades have been seen in my small heaven and bound me 
with sweetest influences ; how my friend, the Great Bear, 
straddles across for a look at me, and a reminder that he 
knows me very well, and knew generations of my fathers 
long before the twenty-three generations that I know of 

" And I have still more to tell him of the lovely time I 
am having in my room — how I have watched a fairy 
castle grow against my sky. How I saw at first a derrick 
spring aloft, and then many tiny spirits of the air build 
away on a square foundation ; how they made port-holes 
in the top looking every way for the Mafia or any other 
enemy, and over this threw arches and fairy adornment of 
cunning work in white marble ; how they threw up a 
rocket then and hung out electric lights, and I supposed 
their work was over and their airy castle finished, but they 
then mounted a great calcium light to let the incoming 
ships from foreign lands know our eye is upon them ; how 
they built another and still another story to their castle — 
four in all, and were still building. And I call his attention 
to a strange bird coming regularly at the same hour in 
the evening, sailing (with c a raucous voice ') across our 
dwelling and into my own little plantation in the sky. 
He is of the species vulgarly called 4 Bat ' — and so I 
named him our Fledermaus. At precisely the same hour 
every morning has he come back again, screaming tri- 
umphantly, or putting on a bold front to account to his 
mate in Central Park how he had spent the night in the 
Long Island marshes. The first time the flashlight was 
kindled in my castle in the air and its searching glance fell 
upon the recreant Fledermaus, he wheeled around and made 
his circuit in another direction, and we shall hear his rau- 
cous voice no more ! 

My Day 399 

" Which is additional proof of what we know already : 
1 Conscience makes cowards of us all.' Or perhaps it is 
only that no self-respecting Fledermaus can be expected to 
countenance flashlights at hours when sensitive folk are 
coming home in the morning. 

" My general listens respectfully while I go through all 
this. 'Evidently " stone walls do not a prison make,'" is 
his comment. ' Here are you interested in botany, as- 
tronomy, and in building the Madison Square Garden.' 
' Garden ! Do stone walls a garden make ? ' ' Here in 
New York they do,' he tells me ; l a great, hot theatre is to be 
called a garden and crowned by Diana of the Ephesians ! 
St. Gaudens is making the goddess. But you'll not need 
gardens or goddesses to make you happy ! Ah ! What a 
wonderful woman you are — so content, so cheery in spite 
of all our privations.' Which shows what poor crea- 
tures men are, as far as discernment goes, regarding the 
ways of women ; for my dear, oh, my dear ! — a very 
lonely, homesick, heartsick body is 

" Your devoted 

"Sara A. Pryor. 

" P.S. — I am a wretch — I know I am — to end my letter 
with a howl. But an organ-man under my window is 
grinding away at ' Home, Sweet Home.' He must be 
driven away or I perish! There he goes again — 'The 
Old Folks at Home ' ! I must put both my sofa pillows 
over my ears ! Dearly, S. A. P." 


EARLY in the winter I had a visit from a beau- 
tiful young lady, an orphan daughter of a 
rear admiral of whom I had known in former 
days. She had found herself temporarily embar- 
rassed, and had planned an afternoon of music and 
reading, was about to send out some cards, and 
wished me to be one of her patronesses. I gladly 
consented, and on the afternoon designated, went 
to her boarding-house near the Park, her landlady 
having kindly given her rooms for the entertain- 
ment. I was early, and as nobody appeared I 
pressed the negro boy at the door into my service, 
and placed some palms I found at hand, ar- 
ranged the desk, and awaited the reader and her 
audience. Presently Bishop Potter entered, carry- 
ing the bag which held his robe, on his way, perhaps, 
to christen a baby. I knew him " by sight," and 
ventured to introduce myself, simply as " Mrs. 
Pryor," explaining my presence. He told me of 
his interest in the occasion and in the young lady 
who was to read, adding, " I know little of her 
qualification for her task, but I did know her father." 
Presently who should walk in, tall, grim, and unat- 
tended, but General Sherman ! The bishop in- 
stantly presented me as Mrs. General Roger A. 
Pryor. I was so wrought upon, finding myself in 
this awful presence, that I exclaimed, " Oh, Genera] 


My Day 401 

Sherman ! Never did I think I should find myself 
in the same boat with you ! " 

He looked at me gravely a moment, and said : 
" Now see here ! I'm not as black as I am painted." 
— "And I," said the bishop, "am sorry, sorry, to 
find the wife of my good friend, the general, willing 
to remember things past and gone forever." 

" Well," said General Sherman, " if she doesn't for- 
bid me the house, I should like to call on General 
Pryor ! I'm told they have the cosiest little home 
in New York." 

He did call, and so did his charming daughter, 
Rachel, whom I liked, and hope I made my friend. 

As to the " reading " — Mrs. Botta, Mrs. Bettner, 
the two great ones and my own small self were the 
major part of the audience, — fit though few, — but 
I must confess that no occasion could have been to 
me fraught with more interest, more significance. 
My thoughts rushed back to the time when the man 
before me had marched through an unhappy South- 
ern state without even a wheelbarrow to intercept 
his way, when all laws of civilized warfare were sent 
to the winds, and the women and children, in a belt 
sixty miles wide, were plundered and driven from 
their homes ; returning, after he had passed, to weep 
over the blackened plains he left behind him. In 
his official report of his operations in Georgia he 
said : " We consumed the corn and fodder in the 
region thirty miles on either side, from Atlanta to 
Savannah, also the sweet potatoes, hogs, sheep, and 
poultry, and carried off more than ten thousand 
horses and mules. I estimated the damage done to 

402 My Day 

the state of Georgia at one hundred millions of dol- 
lars, at least twenty millions of which inured to our 
benefit, and the remainder was simply waste and 
destruction." 1 But the blame for this pillage must 
be placed higher than the shoulders of General 

On December 18, 1863, Major-general Halleck 
thus instructed him : " Should you capture Charles- 
ton, I hope by some accident the place may be de- 
stroyed, and if a little salt should be sown on the 
site, it might prevent the growth of future crops of 
nullification and treason." 

Sherman replied December 24, 1863 : — 

"I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do 
not think ' salt ' will be necessary. When I move, the Fif- 
teenth Corps will be on the right of the right wing, and 
their position will naturally bring them to Charleston first, 
— and if you have watched the history of that corps, you 
will have remarked that they generally do their work pretty 
well. The truth is, the whole army is burning with an 
insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. 
I almost tremble at her fate, but feel she deserves all that 
seems in store." 

A solid wall of smoke by day, forty miles wide 
and from the horizon to the zenith, gave notice to 
the women and children of the fate that was mov- 
ing on them. All day they watched it — all night it 
was lit up by forked tongues of flame lighting the 
lurid darkness. The next morning it reached them. 
Terror borne on the air, fleet as the furies spread out 
ahead, and murder, arson, rapine, enveloped them. 

1 Sherman's "Memoirs," Vol. II, p. 223. 

Mrs. Vin'cenzo Botta. 

My Day 403 

But why repeat the story ? This was war, war 
that spares not the graybeard, childhood, aged women, 
holy nuns — nobody ! Not upon one only does the 
responsibility for such crimes rest. Nor is it for us 
to desire, or mete out, an adequate punishment. 
The Great Judge " will repay " — unless, as I 
humbly pray, He has forgiven, as we have for- 
given, and I trust been ourselves forgiven. 

No Southerner, however, can wholly forget, as 
he stands before the splendid statue made by St. 
Gaudens, at what price the honors to this man were 
bought. The angel may bear, to some eyes, a palm 
of victory, and proclaim, " Fame, Honor, Immortal- 
ity, to him whom I lead." To the eye of the South- 
erner the winged figure bears a rod, and the bronze 
lips a warning — " Beware ! " 

Our earliest and most faithful friends in our new 
home were Judge Edward Patterson (our first visitor) 
and his amiable and gifted family. Much of our 
happiness was due to their sympathetic attentions, 
at a time when we had few friends. 

One of my early friends in New York was Mrs. 
Vincenzo Botta, whom I had met at the house of 
Mrs. Dix when we were negotiating with Colonel 
Mapleson, Patti, and Nicolini. She was then about 
sixty-nine years old. She died seven years after she 
first came to my little home in 33d Street, and a 
warm friendship grew to full maturity in those few 
years. Without beauty she had yet a charming 
presence, with no evidences of age, although the 
little black lace mantilla she wore over her curls was 
her own confession. She was the only woman who 

404 My Day 

held at the time, or has held since, anything like a 
real salon. Nobody was ever known to decline an 
invitation to that house. It was one of the large, 
old-fashioned houses near Fifth Avenue, with San 
Domingo mahogany doors, wide staircase, and four 
spacious rooms on each floor. There were tapestries 
on the walls, a few good pictures, three busts, — one 
of Salvini, one of the hostess's husband, the other 
her maid, — wood fires, and fresh flowers every day. 
The gracious white-haired lady at the head of the 
house had a charm born of long experience in all 
the gentle ministrations of life ; her mind was beauti- 
fully cultivated, the bluest blood filled her veins ; 
but not from her lips did one learn anything of her 
distinguished antecedents, although she had been 
an author, a sculptor, and poet. She came nearer 
to the distinction of holding a salon than any one 
who has ever lived in New York. At her receptions 
might be found Salvini, Edwin Booth, Modjeska, 
Christine Nilsson, and every distinguished author and 
diplomat who visited the city. Nobody was ever 
hired to entertain her guests — they entertained 
each other. Sometimes a great singer would volun- 
teer a song, or a poet or an actor give something 
of his art, of course never requested by the hostess. 
Sometimes the evening would close with a dance. 
One often wondered at the ease with which Mrs. 
Botta could gather around her musicians, artists, 
actors, authors, men and women of fashion, men 
conspicuous in political life, — every one who had 
in himself some element of originality or genius. 
Her salon was not inaptly termed a reproduction of 

My Day 405 

Lady Blessington's or the Duchess of Sutherland's. 
A card to her conversazione, as she preferred to term 
it, was, as I have said, eagerly sought, and never de- 
clined. Her afternoon teas were famous ; but her 
dinners! I do not mean the terrapin and wines — 
the table-talk in this mansion was the attraction. 
Everybody came away not only charmed, but en- 
couraged ; thinking better of himself, and by conse- 
quence better of his fellow-creatures. 

Dinners like these are constantly given to-day all 
over the country. Perhaps our best and highest 
people — those that constitute the honor and pride 
of our social life, and redeem our manners from the 
criticism to which they are subjected — are the 
people who manage never to appear in the papers. 
They give dinners of great taste and beauty that 
are never described. At their tables are gathered 
the wit and wisdom of many lands, and whatever 
accessories can be commanded by taste and wealth. 
These stars of the social firmament revolve in a 
sphere of their own, — around no wealthy or titled 
sun, — but around each other. Vitalized by one 
powerful magnet, they at once, like iron filings, attract 
each other. 

I had known nothing of Mrs. Botta's prestige nor 
of her friendship with Emerson, Carlyle, Froude, 
Fanny Kemble, Frederika Bremer, Daniel Webster, 
Charles O'Connor, Fitz-Greene Halleck, even Louis 
Kossuth, when she first visited me, introducing her- 
self; nor did she ever allude to any one or anything 
(as so many do !) to impress me with her claims to 
my consideration. A most fascinating talker herself, 

406 My Day- 

she proceeded simply to draw me on gently to talk 
of myself, — and no magnet can draw like human 
sympathy. I once found myself telling her some- 
thing of my experience in time of war, encouraged 
by her splendid eyes fixed upon me in rapt attention. 

Presently their light was veiled in tears, and ris- 
ing from her seat she took me in outstretched arms 
and kissed me. No wonder that the soul of Jona- 
than was knit to the soul of David from that hour. 

She could even sympathize with so small a matter 
as my dolors anent the hot summer I had passed — 
" Yes, yes," she said, " I know all about it." She 
had written a dismal catalogue of the miseries of the 
dog-days, of which I remember the concluding 
lines : — 

" When Phoebus and Fahrenheit start a rampage 
Then there's heat, no thoughts of a blizzard assuage ; 
And when ' General Humidity ' joins in the tilt 
Like plucked flowers of the field the poor mortal must wilt, 
Till he cries like the wit, in disconsolate tones, 
To take ofF his flesh and sit in his bones ! 
But for all that, my dear, to make myself clear, 
Give me New York for nine months of the year — 
With all its shortcomings there's no place so dear ! 
With its life and its rush, what it does and has done, 
There's no city like it under the sun." 

In which I have come to agree with her. 

In her drawing-rooms, beautiful by specimens of 
her own work, — for she was a sculptor and exqui- 
site needlewoman as well as poet and graceful 
hostess, — I met many of the literary lights of the 
day, as well as society women of New York. "I 
shall give a reception to Miss Murfree," she once 

My Day 407 

told me. " Why ? " I asked. " Is she one of your 
great people ? " " Do you remember," said Mrs. 
Botta, with a twinkling eye, " 'Dorinda Cayce ' ?" I 
remembered Dorinda Cayce in the " Prophet of the 
Great Smoky Mountain," who had gone through 
storms of snow and tempest to win pardon for her 
lover in prison, only to discover at the end he was 
but an ordinary, selfish mortal. There was nothing 
so remarkable about that, I submitted. " Ah ! but 
don't you remember how she explained the wonder- 
ful fact that, with all his faults, she had loved him 
and had been ready to die for him ? ' No — no — ' 
said Dorinda, ' I never loved you I ' I loved what I 
think you was.' Then and there," said Mrs. Botta, 
" she reached deep down into the mysteries of a 
woman's heart. We love what we think they are ! 
I shall give her a reception." 

I had met William Cullen Bryant five or six years 
before, not long before he died (I have seen so 
many setting suns !), and Mrs. Botta, who had 
known him well, was interested in my account of 
an interview with him. We had come over from 
Brooklyn to attend a reception which the publisher 
of Johnson's Encyclopaedia gave to his contribu- 
tors. One of his articles had been written by my 
husband. At this reception I also met Bayard 
Taylor, Clarence Stedman, and others, with whose 
talents in invective against the South I was familiar. 
But I bore them no malice. I was especially anx- 
ious to speak with the old poet, and sought an in- 
troduction to him. When the crowd passed on to 
the refreshment rooms, I observed him standing 

408 My Day 

alone, leaning upon the grand piano, and I ventured 
to join him. Supper versus William Cullen Bryant! 
There could be but one conclusion. I made bold 
to hope he was well, as I stood almost spellbound 
before his fine gray head. I found myself hoping 
something more. I was willing he should hate 
treason with all his heart — but I did wish he could 
ever so little like the traitor ! 

" Oh, yes," he replied to my question, " I am 
perfectly well. But I find I am growing old." 

" I warrant," said I, "you could struggle for your 
oysters with the best of them." 

" True," he replied, " but that is not the trouble. 
I forget people's names." 

" A poet can afford to forget. Only politicians 
need be careful." 

" Nobody can afford to be unkind," answered the 
old poet. 

" Names are small matters," I suggested. " If 
you remember faces, you are all right." 

" Oh, no," said he, " you must remember names. 
I did not arrange this drama in which we are all 
acting, but I know a part of my role is to remember 
names. If I am presented to Mr. Smith, and I meet 
him next day in Broadway, I think it was intended 
I should say c Good morning, Mr. Smith.' Other- 
wise, why was I presented to him ? If I have for- 
gotten his name, I have forgotten my part, and lose 
the only opportunity that will ever be given me in 
this world of being polite to Mr. Smith." 

Mrs. Botta delighted in such incidents as this. 
I wish she could have laughed with me over an 

My Day 409 

attempt my Gordon (Mrs. Henry Rice) made to 
introduce Mr. Bryant to a class of poor white boys 
she was teaching at a night-school in her home on 
a great tobacco plantation in Virginia. She had 
taught them to read and write, some arithmetic and 
geography, even some Latin ; and was minded to 
awaken the aesthetic instincts which she believed 
must exist in the poor fellows. She read them 
Bryant's " Ode to a Waterfowl." " Now, boys," she 
said eagerly, "tell me \io\n you would feel if you had 
seen this." There was dead silence. Appealing to 
the most hopeful of her sons of toil, she received an 
enlightening response, "I wouldn't think nuthin'." 
" What would you say ? " she persisted. <c Wall — 
I reckon I'd say, l Thar goes a duck ! ' " 

Nobody was kinder to us than Edmund Clarence 
Stedman. On Tuesdays and Fridays one might 
always find a welcome — no cards were issued — and 
a small, choice company of literary men and women 
in his drawing-rooms. Mr. Stedman was the soul 
of kindness. His " friends from the Old Dominion " 
were just as welcome as if he had never written 
" Abraham Lincoln, give us a Man " to crush out 
our " rebellion." No man could have been more 
generous to authors, himself so polished and grace- 
ful a writer. I remember in my own first timid 
venture — I had written something for the Cosmopoli- 
tan Magazine — that he made haste to welcome me, 
to say my essay was " charmingly written," and to 
add, " I have always observed that whatever a lady 
chooses to write has something, an air, that the 
rest of us can never attain," — which goes to prove 

410 My Day 

the chivalry, if not the perception, of dear Mr. Sted- 

In the eighties there were other houses where 
purely literary receptions were held weekly : notably 
at President Barnard's, also at Mrs. Barrow's, affec- 
tionately known by her own nom de plume ; "Aunt 
Fanny," and thus recorded to-day in encyclopaedias 
of literature. Mrs. Andros B. Stone also gathered 
the elect in her drawing-rooms. There I saw again 
the gentle Madame Modjeska. There I met Henry 
M. Stanley, thronged with admirers, and with great 
drops of perspiration on his heated brow, — declining 
to say to me " nay " when I asked if this were not 
worse than the jungles of Africa ! 

What a life he had led, to be sure ! We first 
heard of him as a soldier in the Confederate army ; 
then in the Union navy. He represented " the 
Blue and the Gray" — he had worn them both. 
We all know of his search for Dr. Livingstone, of his 
subsequent marches through the Dark Continent ; 
of his perils by land, perils by sea, courage and for- 
titude. And now here he was — quite like other 
people — in an evening coat with a gardenia in his 
button-hole, and with an English bride all in white 
and gold, and still young enough to fill the measure 
of his glory with more adventures. 

I was early elected a member of the Wednesday 
Afternoon Club, proposed by Mrs. Botta, whose first 
able contribution — a review of Matthew Arnold's 
essay, " Civilization in the United States " — enlight- 
ened me as to what might be expected of me when 
my turn came to provide a paper for discussion. 

My Day 411 

I think I disappointed Mrs. Botta by persistently 
" begging off" from this duty — implied by my con- 
sent to become a member of the club, which included 
Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge, Mrs. R. W. Gilder, Mrs. 
Almon Goodwin, Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Miss 
Kate Field, Mrs. George Haven Putnam, and other 
literary women. Mrs. John Sherwood was one of 
our grande dames, altogether a very notable person- 
age in her prime, a much-travelled lady, the friend 
of Lord Houghton, Daniel Webster, and other great 
lights. She could always gather a large and admir- 
ing audience at her literary conferences. She lived 
to an old age, and never ceased to be "a personage " 
— a very fine type of a high-born, high-bred, intel- 
lectual woman. These reunions, which led society 
in the eighties, afforded opportunity for the man or 
woman of versatile talent. Anybody can harangue 
or read an essay or exploit a special fad or hobby. 
Anybody can chatter, but how many of us can pass 
a thought " like a bit of flame " from one to another ; 
or turn, like a many-faceted gem, a scintillating 
flash in every direction ? This is possible ! This 
made the charm of the French salon, and makes the 
charm to-day of more than one little drawing-room 
that I wot of, which has never been described in the 
society columns of the newspapers. 

I must not dare put myself on record as enjoying 
only "high thinking." The great Dr. Johnson liked 
gossip, so did Madame de Sevigne, so did Greville, 
and hundreds of other delightful people. So do I ! 
But I draw a line at some modern gossip, — whether 
Mrs. Claggett's domestic unhappiness will reach the 

412 My Day 

climax of a divorce, whether she will better herself 
in her next venture ; whether Mrs. Billion will really 
have any difficulty in getting into society, or what 
on earth Lord Frederick could see in that pug-nosed 
Peggy Rustic, who hasn't even the saving grace of 
a little money. I am afraid of personalities, and yet 
we cannot always discuss politics and religion. Men 
have been burnt at the stake for talking politics and 
religion ! 

I have never sympathized in the wholesale abuse 
of New York society — and by this much-used word 
I mean the society defined by Noah Webster as 
" that class in any community which gives and re- 
ceives entertainments." Necessarily a city like New 
York must be made up of many contrasting elements 
— but I believe the true leaven of good society is 
always here, and will in the end inevitably prevail to 
the leavening of the whole. One cannot fail to ob- 
serve in the modern novels that profess to expose it sit- 
uations that could, under no circumstances, ever have 
occurred in decent society. The facility with which 
men and women of humble antecedents reach high 
position here is easily explained. Their early disad- 
vantages have taught them enterprise, to look out for 
their own advantage and seize every opportunity. 
They have ambition. Hence they are "climbers." 
The lowest rung in the ladder successfully reached, 
there is foothold for the next. They are not sensi- 
tive. "Snubbed?" said one. "Of course! Isn't 
everybody snubbed?" It is not wonderful that 
New York receives them. Their wits are sharpened. 
They are very agreeable, very supple, very adaptable. 

My Day 413 

Au reste ! Well, they learn. There are books on 
" Manners and Social Usages " to be had for a dime 
or two. There is one called "The Gentleman" 
which was popular in the nineties. To have read 
Mr. Howells on this book is to long to quote him. 
" We have lately seen how damaging Mr. McAllister 
could make himself to the best society of New York 
by his devout portrayal of it, and now another 
devotee of fashion is trying to play the iconoclast 
with the ideal of gentleman. 

" Do read f Gentleman.' It is the most delicious 
bit of ridiculous flunkyism that has appeared yet 
— always excepting the great success in that line. 
After instructing the proposed gentleman about his 
cravats and pocket-handkerchief, and not to cross 
his legs or wink or pick his teeth, the author con- 
cludes : c In making an offer of marriage, when the 
lady replies affirmatively, immediately clasp her in 
your arms' ! " 

But after all said and done against society, I have 
always liked it. I have not the least wish to turn 
reformer. It will work out its own salvation as to 
important characteristics, and we can afford to laugh 
at its ridiculous ways. We know it is " too bad for 
blessing," but at the same time " it is too good for 

" I overheard Jove," said Silenus, " talking of 
destroying the earth ; he said he had failed ; they 
were all rogues and vixens, going from bad to worse. 
Minerva said she hoped not ; they were only ridicu- 
lous little creatures with this odd circumstance : if 
you called them bad, they would appear bad; if good, 

414 My Day 

they would appear so ; and there was no one person 
among them who would not puzzle her owl — much 
more all Olympus — to know whether it was funda- 
mentally good or bad." It all depends upon the 
point of view, and in a difference of opinion between 
Jove and Minerva I do not hesitate. 

But if I may be allowed one more word, I 
think the trouble about our New York society is 
that we have too much of it. We have no leisure 
to select. And then we seem to be always en repre- 
sentation — as Senior said of an American girl. We 
are consumed with a desire to make an impression, 
— that deadly foe to good manners, — or else we 
wrap ourselves in reserve like a garment. Of the 
two I think I prefer the former — anything but the 
icy dulness of the intense inane. 

To tell the truth, we are heavy — we Americans. 
We cannot pass quickly, " like a bit of flame," from 
one thing to another. We are rarely gracious 
enough to wish to please, but if we do, our com- 
pliments are not an ethereal touch, but flattery 
broadly laid on with spade and trowel. Chester- 
field says, " Human nature is the same all over the 
world." That is, doubtless, true, — we hear it 
quoted often enough, — but there is a great deal 
more of it in some places than in others. There is 
an enormous quantity of human nature in New York. 
After all, it is not as subtle as we imagine. Lady 
Mary Wortley Montagu declares that in all her 
life she had seen but two species of human beings — 
men and women! We cannot agree with her, — we 
have seen others, — but we have faith that all things 

My Day 415 

are working together for good, and good only, in our 
social life, indications to the contrary, reports to the 
contrary, notwithstanding. 

Our little house on 33d Street was the theatre 
of many pleasant events. There I found my friends 
on my Thursdays at home. There my daughter 
Lucy was married. Among her wedding presents 
was an interesting bit of embroidery from the wife 
of our Minister to Turkey, S. S. Cox. Mr. Cox 
had sent it with a letter, at the conclusion of which 
he explained, — remembering my supposed interest 
in Southern dialect, — "I am sorry to be so stupid, 
but the truth is I'm mighty tired ! I have been 
toting Americans over Constantinople all day." 

I answered, requesting a key to the embroidery, 
and added, " I am sorry to find that the onerous 
duties of our Minister to the Ottoman Empire in- 
clude the bearing upon his back or in his arms the 
bodies of visiting Americans, etc. (' Tote,' an old 
English word now obsolete, is still used by Southern 
negroes for bearing a burden, not for conducting or 
escorting.) " Here is Mr. Cox's reply : — 

" U. S. Legation, Constantinople, 
"May 22, 1886. 
" My dear Mrs. Pryor : — 

" If your daughter was half as much pleased with my 
wife's little gift as your letter made me, then the entente 
cordiale between the Bosphorus and the Hudson is firmly es- 
tablished. These little ministrations are very little; but — 

416 My Day 

"'To the God that maketh all 

There is no great — there is no small.' 

Some Brahmin said that ! I think it is one of Emerson's 
petty larcenies from the Orient ; but it is ever so true. 

" ' On what a slender thread 
Hang everlasting things,' 

as the Methodists used to sing ! Here, on my little word 
' tote,' you hang a social and philological disquisition ! I 
will not discuss the word in its Africanese dialect ; but I 
take the noble red man — whose totem is his household 
god ; and in this sense, in this connection, let the doyley 
be revered, as your husband would say, totus atque rotundus. 

" The bit of Oriental work with its cabalistic characters 
bears the Sultan's monogram. It has a story, too — this 
monogram. It is said to be seen in blood in one of the 
temples of Stamboul, St. Sophia, on a column so high up 
that a man of my size can't see it. It is said that the 
blood came from the hand of Mahomet II when he rode 
into the church. It is shaped like a hand, you may see. 
Another tale not so harrowing : It is that Amurath, when 
he made the first treaty with a Christian power, — a small 
republic of Ragusa, — lost his temper and dipped his five 
fingers in ink, and thus made his mark on the parchment. 
This is the tongbra, or seal. The present Sultan has added 
a flower to his handicraft. 

" All this goes on the supposition that the embroidery 
sent Miss Lucy has the cipher on it, but as Mrs. Cox is 
out bazaaring, — or shopping, — I must guess at it. 

" All I can add is to express my regards for your husband, 
who is my beau ideal in many ways. Doubtless he is your 
4 bold idol,' as a young lady said. Tell him when the time 
comes, to warm that place for me ! I will go back to Con- 

My Day 417 

gress and die in harness. I don't want to die here, — in 
fact I don't want to die at all as yet, for life has so much 
blessing and beauty — in spring ! 

" Mrs. Cox and I go this evening to dine at the palace of 
Zildez — the pleasure-house of the Sultan. It is not mu- 
tual that I must take my Only One to see him and I can't 
see any one of his ten thousand and altogether lovely. 

" Yours faithfully, 

«S. S. Cox." 


I HAVE always thought that New York's Cen- 
tennial celebration in 1889 was largely responsi- 
ble for the patriotic societies of men and women 
which have swept the country. 

Everybody was willing at the time of the celebra- 
tion to sit for two entire days on rude seats under 
the April sun while the evidences of the power and 
achievements of our great country passed in review 
before us. 

We remember the military pomp of the first day, 
the dignified carriage of the governors of our United 
States as they bared their heads in gracious acknowl- 
edgment of the cheers of the people, the triumphant 
blare of trumpets, the stirring strains of martial 
music, the glitter of bayonets, the long, living line, 
which was only a small part of the nation's bulwark 
against its possible foes. 

Then the schools and colleges, then the gorgeous 
civic parade and the illustrations and representatives 
of the trades, occupations, and nationalities that have 
found a home in our broad land. 

All this passed before us and is but dimly remem- 
bered. No permanent impression was made by the 
great display. Little remains except the recollection 
that there were millions and millions of people lining 
our pavements, that the show was hardly adequate 
to the expectation of these people, that it was a time 
of many mistakes and much discomfort. 


My Day 419 

But this pageant was not all of the Centennial. 
A number of men of taste and feeling had conceived 
the happy idea of collecting revolutionary relics, 
papers, and portraits, and exhibiting them in the 
Metropolitan Opera House. 

We expected to be interested in these, and some 
of us gave time and thought to the task of making 
the collection as choice as possible. But we were 
unprepared for the effect of the exhibition upon the 
minds of the beholders. We filed along the gal- 
leries of the Metropolitan Opera House and mused 
over the papers of " The Cincinnati " ; the books, 
few and well worn ; pocket dictionaries with book- 
plates, candlesticks that had held the tallow dips in 
difficult times ; silver caddies that had done duty in 
the " tea-cup times " ; pewter platters that had served 
many a frugal meal at Valley Forge ; the curtains 
that had shaded the bed of Lafayette ; the piano- 
cover embroidered by sweet Nellie Custis ; pathetic 
empty garments, the silken coat of George Washing- 
ton, the brown silk gown of Martha Washington. 
We remembered at what price the glories of the 
preceding days had been purchased. We lived over 
the early times of anxiety, privation, and danger. 
Raising our eyes to the walls, we encountered the 
pictured eyes of the men and women whose spirit, 
behind our little army, had compelled events and 
given dignity and importance to our Revolutionary 

It was difficult to associate thought, learning, 
courage, foresight, and statesmanship with those 
placid faces. Artists of that day presented only the 

420 My Day 

calm, impassive features of their sitters. There was 
George Washington, serene in every pose, dress, and 
age ; Alexander Hamilton, Richard Henry Lee, 
keen-eyed Patrick Henry, Martha Washington, 
Elizabeth Washington, fair Nelly Custis, dark-eyed 
Frances Bland, whose patriot brother fills a lost grave 
in Trinity churchyard. These and scores of others 
looked down upon us from the walls of our great 

And yet it is this, and this only, of all the pageant 
that made a living and lasting impression upon the 
minds of the people. Pondering upon the associa- 
tions connected with these relics and portraits of the 
Revolutionary time, and rereading the histories con- 
nected with them, an impulse was given which is now 
thrilling our people to the extremest bounds of our 
country, and which will result in our taking proper 
steps to acquire and preserve all the localities con- 
nected with the struggle for our independence. 

I was keenly interested in the celebration. I knew 
the president, Mr. Henry Marquand, and took 
upon myself the duty of collecting portraits from 
Virginia — of Patrick Henry, members of the 
Washington family, Nelly Custis, Frances Bland, 
and others. I cherish an engraved resolution of 
thanks adopted by the committee, stating that such 
thanks were "especially due" for my "valuable co- 
operation in the work of the Loan Exhibition of 

The influence of the feeling inspired at the time of 
the Centennial at once expressed itself in the formation 
of the societies of patriotic men and women now so 

My Day 421 

numerous in this country. I assisted in the founda- 
tion of these societies — the Preservation of the Vir- 
ginia Antiquities, the association owning Jamestown; 
the Mary Washington Memorial Association; the 
Daughters of the American Revolution; and the Na- 
tional Society of the Colonial Dames of America. 
The duty of organizing a chapter of the Daughters 
of the American Revolution was assigned to me, 
and I named it "The New York City Chapter." 
Mrs. Vincenzo Botta was my first member, and 
Mrs. Martha Lamb, honorary life member. I was 
much in conference with Mrs. Martha Lamb when 
she was helping to organize the Colonial Dames — 
and I was early, heart and soul, interested in the 
Daughters of the American Revolution. Of James- 
town and the noble society which owns it — every- 
body knows. I managed a great ball at the White 
Sulphur Springs to help build a monument over 
Mary Washington's grave. The governors of New 
York and of Virginia each sent flags — from the 
state of my birth and the state of my adoption. 
General Lee conducted the Mary Washington of 
the hour. The Virginia beauties wore their great 
grandmother's gowns of quilted petticoat and bro- 
cade, and I received a large sum for the monument. 
For the Mary Washington monument Mrs. 
Charles Avery Doremus, with Mrs. Wilbur Blood- 
good, gave a beautiful play, for which the Secretary 
of the Navy lent me colors enough to drape the 
entire house. I cherish the permit I received to 
use these colors. It was signed " George Dewey" ! 
Patti, the guest of Mrs. Ogden Doremus, occupied 

422 My Day 

one of the boxes. The orchestra played " Home, 
Sweet Home," and she rose and bowed as only 
Patti can bow. I talked with her between acts and 
told her what a naughty, candy-loving little ten-year- 
old maid she had been when she would stay in 
Petersburg with Ellen Glasgow's mother, and Stra- 
kosch had to pay her to sing with a hatful of candy ! 
All this she received with her own merry, rippling 
laughter. It was a kind deed — the great singer to 
give an afternoon of her time to encourage me in 
my enterprise, and charm my amiable amateurs by 
her hearty applause. Authorized by my chief, the 
widow of Chief Justice Waite, I made the Princess 
Eulalia and the Duchess of Veragua members of 
the Mary Washington Memorial Association, and 
conferred upon them the Golden Star of the order. 
This was a pleasant souvenir for them of the Co- 
lumbian Exposition. 

The societies based upon Colonial and Revolu- 
tionary descent deprecate the idea that anything 
tending to the creation of an aristocracy is intended 
by their action, — that they attach any other signifi- 
cance to the accident of birth than the presump- 
tion that it insures interest and perpetuity ; — that 
there is any motive underlying their movement less 
noble than the pure principle of patriotism. Amer- 
icans, notwithstanding their adulation of foreign 
titles, have been until lately somewhat sensitive lest 
they should be thought to assume a right to aristoc- 
racy. When Bishop Meade was collecting material 
for his " History of Old Families and Churches in 
Virginia," he found the owners of hereditary arms 

My Day 423 

and crests actually ashamed to confess the fact ! 
They felt with Napoleon a desire to create rather 
than inherit nobility. 

The spirit of the times now seems to tend to the 
American aristocracy of birth, but on the republican 
foundation of merit, character and service done ; 
not an aristocracy which assumes the right to social 
rule because of birth, but an aristocracy which rec- 
ognizes birth as a bond and an obligation. " There 
can be," said Bishop Potter, " only one true aristoc- 
racy in all the world — that of character enriched by 

It is interesting to observe the laws that govern 
enthusiasm. It is like " the wind that bloweth where 
it listeth " — and no man can discover its source. 
Once in a hundred years a great wave of patriotic 
ardor has surged over this continent. Nathaniel 
Bacon lived a hundred years too soon when he 
struck the first blow against the tyranny of England. 
A hundred years later his spirit possessed our revo- 
lutionary fathers. Another hundred years passed, 
and the whole country responded to a similar in- 
stinct of patriotism. It is sure to go on and on, 
and be renewed and invigorated at every centennial 
celebration ; and who will be able to number the 
ranks, or estimate the strength or compute the 
riches, or rightly value the influence of the sons 
and daughters of the American Revolution ? 

In addition to this and other patriotic societies, a 
very important national society was formed of the 
Colonial Dames of America, in which I was inter- 
ested. No state leads in this association — all are 

424 My Day 

upon an equal footing. The applicant cannot apply, 
paradoxical as this appears ! Her own place in 
the world, however noble her lineage, must also be 
considered. She must be gentle of manner as well 
as gentle of blood. 

It is distinctly understood that this society is a 
firm, though silent, protest against that aristocracy 
which considers itself best because it is highest on 
the tax list and bank list. There is not the remot- 
est suggestion of an aggressive spirit, but the steady 
trend is against plutocracy, arrogance, and that im- 
pertinent assumption of place notable in this country 
in those who have no foundation for pride beneath 
the surface of the earth, and no aspiration above it. 

One of the sure prophecies of our future pros- 
perity and honor may be found in the number and 
importance of the patriotic societies of women. 
For, however individuals may sully them by per- 
sonal pride and ambition, or restrict them by a 
spirit of exclusiveness antagonistic to the fundamen- 
tal principles upon which they are based, their very 
existence proves the decided reaction from certain 
grave evils which are well known and which cer- 
tainly will be, unchecked, a source of peril to our 
beloved country. 

I believe in the true-hearted American woman. I 
have known her in every phase of human experience : 
in poverty, in suffering, in disaster, in prosperity. 
I proudly rank myself beside her ! Whatever fickle 
fashion or wayward fancy may decree for her, I 
know if there be one passionate desire above all 
others which inspires her heart, it is to leave this 

My Day 425 

world better and happier for her having been born 
into it, — to become herself a bright exemplar of the 
beauty of goodness, so that all may be won by the 
loveliness of lovely lives ; to let the whole trend of 
her life be forward, not backward ; upward, not 
downward; to borrow from the fires of the heroic past 
to kindle the fires of the future ; to preserve to that 
end the memory of the deeds of those whose lives 
have set them apart in the history of our country. 


IN the summer of 1888 yellow fever appeared in 
Florida and raged with peculiar violence in 
Jacksonville. Early in September I received 
a letter inviting me to meet a number of ladies at 
rooms on Broadway to organize a committee for the 
relief of the Jacksonville sufferers. Mrs. Stedman 
(wife of the poet) was with me at the time I received 
the letter, and she agreed with me that it would be 
a most beautiful thing for the New York women to 
send substantial relief to their stricken sisters in 
Florida. So, on the day and hour appointed, Mrs. 
Stedman accompanied me to the place designated. 
We found ourselves in the presence of a large room- 
ful of ladies neither of us had ever before seen. I 
was made chairman by acclamation, and a Mrs. 
Manton secretary. 

I had never presided at a meeting, but I did my 
best. I invited an expression of the views of those 
before me as to the wisest schemes for the benevo- 
lent work. A great many suggestions were offered 
of a totally unpractical nature, and I finally asked 
for an adjournment, to meet two days from the pres- 
ent, and requested my " committee " to consider the 
matter, confer with their friends, and give me the 
opportunity to seek advice from mine. Mrs. Sted- 
man seemed much discouraged, as we walked home 
together. She felt sure nothing would result from 


My Day 427 

this experiment; and besides, as Mayor Hewitt was 
engaged in collecting funds for the relief of Jackson- 
ville, perhaps all good citizens should send their 
offerings to him. I intended at the next meeting 
to follow up her suggestions, but only half a dozen 
ladies appeared. I represented to them that we 
must have money at once to pay for our service in 
future and a small debt already incurred, and we 
then again adjourned. In the vestibule an army of 
eager newspaper reporters awaited us, in whose 
hands I left my friends, having nothing myself to 
communicate. Next morning every paper in New 
York announced the interesting fact that Mrs. Roger 
A. Pryor was president of " The Ladies' Jackson- 
ville Relief Society," that names well known in so- 
cial and literary circles were associated with hers, 
and donations of clothing, food, and money were 
solicited ! Of course the press sent me many re- 
porters, and I found myself suddenly invested with 
importance and armed with authority. I went joy- 
fully to meet my appointment for another meeting, 
and found a room, full indeed — but of empty chairs ! 
Not a soul came ! I waited throughout the hour 
alone. At the end of it a message was sent in to 
me from the reporters without. What had we done ? 
What should they say in the next morning's issue 
of the Herald, the World, the Sun, the 'Tribune? 
Sorely perplexed, I answered : " Tell the gentlemen 
we are sitting with closed doors. I shall have noth- 
ing to report for several days." 

I suppose no woman in all New York was ever 
in a more embarrassing situation. Here was I ad- 

428 My Day 

vertised as president of a society engaged in a great 
benevolent enterprise, and the society had simply 
melted away, disappeared, left no trace, not even a 
name and address ! What would New York think 
of me ? I keenly felt the absurdity of my position, 
but superior to every personal annoyance was my 
own disappointment. An opportunity to work effec- 
tively for the stricken people of Florida had been 
suddenly snatched from me. A friend in Jackson- 
ville, having heard of the movement, had written : — 

" I have been prostrated by yellow fever, and am unable 
to carry out the plans I had made with Bishop Weed for 
aid for the sick and friendless children here, and the bishop's 
days are filled with the most pressing duties. Along this 
pathway through the valley of the shadow of death there 
are many little children whose pathetic condition touches 
the chords of our tenderest sympathies. But our hands 
hang limp and helpless, and so we hold them out to you." 

I found myself consumed with longing to help 
them. I felt then — as I felt afterward for the or- 
phans of Galveston — that I could almost consent 
to give my own life if I could but save theirs. 

These were the dreams of the night, and with the 
dawn I had resolved to be " obedient to the heavenly 
vision." Before ten o'clock I sent telegrams to 
Mrs. Vincenzo Botta, Mrs. Wm. C. Whitney, Miss 
Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, Mrs. Frederic Coudert, 
Mrs. Judge Brady, Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Mrs. Levi 
P. Morton, Mrs. Don Dickinson, Mrs. William C. 
Rives, Mrs. William Astor, and Mrs. Martha Lamb. 
Would they join me in a gift from New York women 
to Jacksonville ? 

My Day 429 

Every one responded, " Yes, gladly, if you will 
manage it." Mrs. Astor, Mrs. Reid, and Mrs. 
Coudert sent money — a goodly sum — to start my 

Here I was, then, with a splendid following — le 
premier ■pas? Where could I commence? Surely 
not by begging money — that I would never do. 
By some means we must earn it. Just then I saw 
that Mr. Frohman had offered a matinee for the 
Mayor's Relief Fund. I communicated with Mr. 
Frohman, asking him to beg the mayor to let my 
fine committee have this matinee with which to in- 
augurate our work. His Honor evidently regarded 
the proposition as indicative of nerve, needing repres- 
sion. Mr. Frohman quoted him as surprised, and 
quite decided : " Mr. Hewitt says he thought every- 
body knew he needed all the money he could get." 

He had only that one matinee. Before night I 
had telegraphed every reputable theatre and concert- 
hall in the city, and secured nine ! Thoroughly 
upon my mettle, I went to work. My support was 
all out of town except Mrs. Botta and Mrs. Fanny 
Barrow. We were a committee of three for several 
weeks, but we diligently increased our strength by 
letters and telegrams. Mr. Aronson, of the Casino, 
fixed upon September 27 for his votive matinee, and 
Mr. John McCaull, who had Wallack's Theatre, 
selected the same day. " Never mind, madam," 
said Mr. Aronson ; " I'll turn away enough people 
from my doors to fill Wallack's." " Rest assured, 
madam," said Mr. McCaull, " I'll turn away enough 
people from Wallack's to fill the Casino." So I had 

430 My Day 

two great matinees on my hands — fixed for the 
same day, the same hour. 

I knew it would be vital to my interests to have 
these initial entertainments successful. I busied my 
brain with schemes which I cunningly revealed to 
my friends among the merchants. I wanted satin 
banners painted with palms and orange-blossoms 
for Mr. Aronson and Mr. McCaull. I wanted 
beautiful satin programmes for every man, woman, 
and child who played for me, and for all my patron- 
esses. I craved flowers galore. I longed for fine 
stationery, white wax, and a seal. I obtained all 
these things. So many flowers were sent that bas- 
kets and bouquets were presented to everybody on 
the stage. The actors caught the enthusiasm. Mr. 
Solomon, who sang the topical song at the Casino, 
introduced happy, appropriate lines. " Aunt Louisa 
Eldridge " opened a flower sale in the foyer, and 
made a large sum for the charity. Satin souvenirs 
were given to everybody with the " Compliments 
of the Ladies' Jacksonville Relief Society." Every 
note (a personal one written to each performer) was 
sealed with white wax and a seal made expressly for 
me. Little Fanny Rice was bewitching in Nadjy — ■ 
singing the pretty Mignon song which is borrowed 
in the play. At Wallack's there was a splendid pro- 
gramme, in which many stars participated — Kyrle 
Bellew, and others, and a wonderfully funny balcony 
scene from " Romeo and Juliet" — De Wolf Hopper 
the Juliet, Jefferson De Angelis the nurse, and Mar- 
shall Wilder, Romeo ! 

When it was all over, there was one very tired 

My Day 431 

woman on 33d Street. But next day the papers 
announced " brilliant audience, beautiful mounting, 
grand success." Everybody was thanked, by name, 
through the papers. Mr. Aronson sent me $904.50. 
Early next morning I was summoned to my parlor, 
and before reaching it, I heard a masculine voice : 
" Don't be afraid — speak up now ! " Entering, I 
was confronted by a wee, winsome lassie with long 
curls, great eyes, a lovely little face from which a big 
hat was pushed, while a chubby hand was thrust into 
mine and a sweet little voice said, " I'se dot sumsin 
for you! " 

It was the baby girl of Mr. Stevens, the manager 
of Wallack's, and the " sumsin" was a big roll of 
bank-notes — $1620 — while an honest little hand 
presented the silver fraction, 85 cents. 

This money, $2525, was immediately forwarded 
to Governor Perry, who sent it where it was sorely 
needed, — to the little town of Fernandina and other 
small towns in Florida afflicted by the scourge, — 
Gainsville, Manatee, McClenny, Crawfordsville, and 
Enterprise. From all these towns, as well as from 
Governor Perry, I received (fumigated) letters of 
thanks and assurance that every dollar was used to 
relieve distress ! 

From that time onward I thought of nothing, 
worked for nothing — except the relief of Jackson- 
ville. I was nothing but a theatrical manager. It 
was the custom of the theatres to present me with 
the building and play — also with a plan of the 
house and all the tickets. I had to sell the seats 
and boxes, do all the advertising, and meet sundry 

432 My Day 

outside expenses — ushers, orchestra, etc. I did all 
this with little help until my friends returned to 
town, and then Mrs. Egbert Guernsey, Mrs. Bar- 
row, Mrs. Stedman, and Mrs. Botta became my pil- 
lars of strength. Each matinee was honored as were 
the first two, with satin programmes, banners, and 
flowers, personal notes sealed with white wax, etc. 
I sat from morning until night at my desk, and my 
diary, kept at the time, records two thousand letters 
written by my own hand. Every theatre gave us a 
play, and the Eden Musee a varied entertainment, 
and Mrs. Sherwood came from Rome to give us 
two readings. 

When Mr. Daly's turn came, I had some difficulty 
in selling seats. The public had endured a good 
deal of Jacksonville, and began to say, "The Relief 
Society is still with us," or, " The Jacksonville Re- 
lief Society, like Banquo's ghost, ' will not down.' ' 

My dear friend, Mr. Cyrus Field, found me in 
some anxiety, and sent me his clerk every morn- 
ing to ask how I was " getting along," taking entire 
blocks of seats and filling them with his friends. 

Mrs. Jeanette Thurber also came in (when I was 
flagging) with her large heart and full hands ; so our 
old friends — Mrs. Gilbert, James Lewis, John Drew, 
George Clark, Kitty Cheatham, and Ada Rehan — 
played, as the Jenkins of the day announced, " to a 
large, brilliant, and fashionable house." I added to 
each of my satin souvenirs for " the cast " a quotation 
from Shakespeare. Ada Rehan played " The Wife 
of Socrates " as an afterpiece. On her souvenir was 
printed in gold: — 

My Day 433 

" Be she as shrewd 

... As Socrates' Xantippe," 

" She hath a tear for Pity, and a hand 
Open as day for melting charity." 

When the time arrived for Mr. Chickering to 
give me his hall for a concert, I was beginning to 
feel a little weary, and was glad to enlist the interest 
of Professor Ogden Doremus, formerly president 
of the Philharmonic Society. I wrote letters which 
brought many offers. " How many ? " asked Dr. 
Doremus. " A hatful," I answered. We poured 
them out on a table and made a selection. " These," 
said the doctor, " are fine, fine ! But we must have 
a star ! I'll go out to-morrow and sweep the skies 
for comets. The great planets will not work for 

At night he wrote me : " No hope for a star ! 
Everybody wants money ! We must manage with 
our amateurs." 

The next day I drove up boldly to the Metro- 
politan Opera House and asked for Mr. Stanton. 
I told him my story, and begged him to " help me, 
to help my poor countrymen." 

" I'll give you Alvary ! " he exclaimed. " Noth- 
ing is too good for your cause ! " " Oh," I faltered, 
— for I was astounded, — " I'm sure Alvary will not 
condescend to sing with a company of amateurs, to 
the accompaniment of one piano." "Will not?" 
said Mr. Stanton ; " it is my impression Alvary will 
do what I order him to do." He continued, how- 
ever, as Colonel Mapleson had done with Patti, 
to say that, although this was all true, it would be 

434 My Day 

wise for me to request Alvary to sing. This I did, 
receiving a gracious, acquiescent reply. 

Mrs. Shaw, the famous siffleuse, had just returned 
from England, where she had whistled for the Prince 
of Wales, and I was delighted at her offer to con- 
tribute to the concert. The programme was ar- 
ranged, Mr. Chickering notified, and twelve hundred 
tickets sent me to be sold. We set the stage mag- 
nificently, borrowing rugs, choice furniture, pictures, 
hangings. We furnished a greenroom with refresh- 
ments, cigars, and flowers, — and a remoter private 
room for the great tenor, ■ — had the banners extraor- 
dinarily handsome, and advertised our programme 
for Friday night, October 12. 

Early Monday morning I received the following 
note : — 

" Herr Max Alvary supposed when he consented to sing 
for Madame Pryor that she would arrange a programme in 
accordance with his social and artistic position. 

" Madame Pryor has not done this. Herr Alvary will 
not sing for Madame Pryor." 

Before I recovered my senses after reading this 
astounding missive, I received the following: — 

" Madam ; When Mrs. Shaw consented to whistle for 
you, she forgot she was under contract with Mr. Pond. 
She cannot appear on any occasion outside Mr. Pond's 
series of entertainments." 

Light broke upon my clouded vision. This — 
the siffleuse, was the offending one ! I wrote at once 
to Herr Alvary that the number to which he had 

My Day 435 

objected was withdrawn. I told the telegraph 
messenger to wait for an answer. He returned after 
an absence of several hours, and reported : " I asked 
the gentleman for an answer, and he slammed the 
door in my face. Then I waited outside till dinner- 
time ! " 

Tuesday, Wednesday, passed. I forbore to annoy 
Mr. Stanton. It was not my will to accept anything 
against another's will. Herr Alvary might go to — 
France for me ! I should certainly not humble 
myself to him. In the meantime, Dr. Doremus 
tried again and again in vain. Thursday ! No 
Alvary, no whistler ! A pretty way indeed to treat a 
confiding public buying tickets to hear both of them! 

Finally I broke down. I wrote to the naughty 
boy, and wrote to his heart. I said in conclusion, 
" While you hesitate, my countrymen are dying." 
He had a heart and I found it. I received a prompt 
answer: — - 

" Madame Pryor : — 

" I will sing for you Friday, and I will sing as often as the 
audience wishes. I am sorry for the sorrow I gave you, 
but — Madame Pryor, you know the human voice was 
never meant for whistling ! 

" Your humble, 

"Max Alvary." 

The concert was fine. He sang as never before, 
returning again and again in response to the enthusi- 
astic recalls of the large audience. Mrs. Sylvanus 
Reed, who was one of my patronesses on all my 
programmes, brought with her twenty or more of 

436 My Day 

the young ladies of her school. I had not required 
evening dress, but from my lofty seat in the sky 
gallery I looked down upon hundreds of the flower- 
decked heads of my dear American fellow-women. 

After Alvary's last number, he appeared in a side 
aisle, sweeping the galleries with his opera-glass. 
" Mamma," said my daughter Fanny, " that man is 
looking for you ! " " He'll not find me," I assured 
her ; " he never saw me." " But a man who has seen 
you is with him and is helping him ! " Sure enough, 
the double barrels were soon focussed upon me in 
my eyrie, and Alvary, in an impressive manner, waved 
his hand, laid it upon his heart, and thrice bowed 

But this was not the last time I saw my naughty, 
bonny boy Alvary. I was bidden once to spend 
my day as pleased me best, as it was my birthday, 
and I elected to see " Siegfried." I tied my card 
to some violets and threw them at the feet of the 
then greatest tenor in the world, and he recognized 
the tribute. Many were the lovely letters I received 
after this delightful concert, one most charming from 
my dear old friend, William C. Rives. 

But the blessed frost soon came to do more for 
the stricken city than I could do. I reopened, 
cleansed, and refurnished St. Luke's Hospital, sent 
nearly a thousand dollars to Sister Mary Ann to re- 
habilitate the Catholic Hospital, and a similar sum 
to the Jacksonville Orphanage. Governor Perry 
sent a committee all the way from Florida to thank 
me, letters poured in from distant friends, the papers 
said lovely things about my effort. " Who is the 

My Day 437 

best theatrical manager in New York ? " was asked 
of A. M. Palmer. "Well," he replied, " if you 
wish a true answer, I should say Mrs. Pryor ! " 

In a time of national disaster no other city in the 
world responds as does New York. Witness the Gal- 
veston flood, when one bazaar I had the pleasure of 
managing yielded $51,000 — witness the San Fran- 
cisco earthquake ! Every heart is warmed with 
sympathy — every hand open, when real trouble, real 
disaster, overtakes any part of our country. And 
nowhere do we find a quicker response than among 
actors, who are rarely, if ever, rich, and never lead, as 
others do, a life of ease. 

The letters I received from the New York women 
who had so nobly stood by me and helped me were, 
for a long time, delightful reading. They are still 
cherished as a reward second only to the crowning 
reward — the relief of suffering — which has com- 
forted me all along the subsequent years of my life. 
They are noble, generous letters, and I wish I could 
give them here, every one, as models of beautiful 
letters as well. One, from the gifted Mrs. Vincenzo 
Botta, is an example of the rest : — 

"25 East 37TH Street, December 13. 
" Dear Mrs. Pryor : — 

I congratulate you most warmly on the success of your 
movement in the relief of our Jacksonville citizens, for 
it is you alone who have been the moving and animating 
force of it all. It will be a pleasant thing for you to re- 
member always, and for us, too, who have followed your 
lead, though so far behind. It will not be possible for me 
to take the place on the committee to which you appoint 

438 My Day 

me. Do take it yourself, dear Mrs. Pryor ! You ought to 
do so. Now the burden of this work is over, you should 
not give it into other hands. So I beg you earnestly to 
take my place. 

"Ever cordially yours, 

"Annie C. L. Botta." 

It had been suggested that the committee which 
had exhibited so much ability should not disband, 
but remain as a permanent organization for the re- 
lief of sudden national disaster. I had wished to 
see Mrs. Botta at the head of this committee. 

We finally, to our regret ever since, elected to 
disband. When I rendered my report and bade my 
dear co-workers adieu, I told them some pleasant 
truths. Every banner and every blossom had been 
given us. The American District Telegraph Com- 
pany had made no charge for service — messengers 
sent me daily to await orders. 

The press had been very generous to us. For 
advertising our entertainments, all charges were re- 
mitted by the Tribune, Herald, Sun, and other papers. 
The editors of sixteen New York papers gave us 
unstinted praise and encouragement. If they per- 
ceived cause for criticism, they withheld it. They 
helped us in every way, and rejoiced our hearts by 
the sweet reward of approbation. They said that 
we were "a band of self-denying and gifted women, 
who add another to the roll of gracious achievements 
which do honor to piety and womanhood." 

We could not follow our work in the little towns 
of Florida, by the cot of the poor negro or the home 
of the widow and orphan and destitute. It should 

My Day 439 

be enough for us to know that through us some 
cooling influence reached their fevered brows, that 
suitable food and clothing was found for them, that 
their hearts were cheered in a dark hour by per- 
ceiving that they were not forgotten or friendless. 
We were told that our alms for the orphans were in 
response to the dying prayers of mothers (a little 
band of New York children elected to become the 
guardian angels of one of these hapless orphans), and 
we learned that our gift to the Catholic sisters was 
larger than any they received from any other source. 
We were assured that comfort was restored, pure 
conduits for water constructed, and good food and 
clothing provided for the Protestant orphans. We 
reopened the hospital, needed more than ever in 
Jacksonville, and about to be closed for want of 
money. All this was much reward, and we could 
add to it our own grateful consciousness of having 
done a noble and worthy deed. 

I shall ever feel the deepest gratitude for my sup- 
port in this charity ; for the gift of beloved and 
honored names, — names never withheld from a 
noble cause, — for generous forbearance towards my- 
self, and for many words of approbation and en- 
couragement. My heart is full of gratitude, and 
full also of all " good wishes, praise, and prayers " 
for the noble band of players who made the great 
work possible. 

"The little band " of children who elected to be- 
come the guardians of one orphan was the Morning- 
side Club, their president a very lovely little girl — 
Renee Coudert. 


IN the autumn of 1900 a strange disaster befell 
the beautiful city of Galveston. A mighty wave 
lifted its crest far out at sea and marched straight 
on until it engulfed the city. It all happened sud- 
denly, in a night. Thousands of men, women, and 
children perished. Hundreds of babies were born 
that night, and picked up alive, floating on the little 
mattresses to which drowning mothers had con- 
signed them. The Catholic sisters and their orphan 
charges all perished. The Protestant Orphan Asy- 
lum, on higher ground, had been built around its 
first room, and in this central chamber the children 
were gathered, and spent the night in singing their 
little hymns. The outer rooms received the shock 
of the waves, but this small sanctuary remained 
intact. For many days after the waters subsided, 
children were found wandering in the streets — some 
did not know their own names, others anxiously 
questioned the passer-by — " Where is my mother ? 
Have you found my papa yet ? " 

The country rushed to the rescue, not to save — 
it was too late — but to succor the homeless, relieve 
the destitute. 

I was summoned one morning to my reception- 
room, where I found a committee awaiting me from 
one of the large newspapers in New York. They 
bore a message from the proprietor and editor to 


My Day 441 

the effect that he wished to open a great bazaar for 
the relief of Galveston, and begged I would consent 
to manage it. My success for Jacksonville had 
brought me this honor. 

I saw at once that I had an opportunity to ac- 
complish great good. I also realized the difficulties 
I should have to encounter. The bazaar was to be 
worked up from the beginning, and three weeks 
were allowed me for the task. My personal influence 
in gaining patronage and material could not be 
great — and newspaper influence was an unknown 
quantity to me. However, " nothing venture noth- 
ing have." The very fact of difficulty stimulated 
me, and I consented. 

Accordingly, next day I repaired to my "place of 
business," a room in the Waldorf Astoria, and found 
myself equipped with stenographers, typewriters 
and type-writing machines, a desk for myself, a desk 
for my assisting manager, and plenty of pens, ink, 
and paper. After a rapid consultation, a plan of pro- 
cedure was adopted : we must have influential 
patronesses, we must have competent managers for 
fifteen booths, and enlist in our service willing hearts 
and hands to solicit contributions of material. This 
was a great work, but we set about it with energy. 
Our troubles soon arose from the number of offers of 
assistance which poured in upon us, and the difficulty 
of selection. Committees were out of the question. 
There was no time for any such machinery. To 
avoid delay and complications, I was appointed a 
committee of one ; a die of my signature was cut, 
and everything relative to the booths passed under 

442 My Day 

my own supervision — every paper was signed with 
my name, every appointment made by me. Our 
one-room office was soon too small, and three more 
rooms added to it, one for Mrs. Vivian's exclusive 
use, that she might try the voices of the singers 
who offered their services and decide upon the 
respective merits of the numbers of musicians who 
generously proffered help. 

I wish I could tell of the splendid work my 
assistants accomplished — Mrs. Donald McLean, 
Mrs. John G. Carlisle, good " Aunt Louisa El- 
dridge," the actress, Mrs. Timothy Woodruff, Mrs. 
Gielow, Mrs. Marie Cross Newhaus, Mrs. Wads- 
worth Vivian, Helen Gardiner, the authoress, Mrs. 
John Wyeth, Miss Florence Guernsey — and many 
others. With such a staff success was assured. 

But I knew well this city of New York. I must 
have prestige. I must have cc stars," and bright ones, 
on my list of patronesses. To secure them, at a sea- 
son when many people of social prominence were in 
Europe, or at country places, required numbers of 
letters and much time. Finally I made a bold dash for 
distinction. I remembered that John Van Buren, when 
asked how he could dare propose marriage to Queen 
Victoria, replied, " I supposed she would say * no ' — 
but then she might say 'yes.'' I telegraphed her 
Majesty, laid the cause of the Galveston orphans at 
her feet, and craved a word of sympathy in the effort 
I was making for their relief. Fate was kinder to 
me than to Mr. Van Buren. She said " yes." She 
did sympathize, and " commanded," from Balmoral, 
that I be so informed. I then telegraphed the Prin- 

My Day 443 

cess Alexandra, and she answered most graciously from 
Fredensborg. I then secured as patronesses for the 
bazaar the Duchess of Marlborough, the Dowager 
Duchess of Marlborough, Mrs. Cornwallis West, 
the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, Lady Somerset, Lady 
Aberdeen, Madame Loubet, Madame Diaz, wife of 
the Mexican President, Madame Aspiroz, wife of 
the Mexican Ambassador. All of these noble 
ladies sent personal answers, and many of them 
sums of money. Sir Thomas Lipton heard of the 
bazaar and sent from England, unsolicited, $500. 

To this foreign list I was able to add a large 
number of the New York names best known and 
most highly esteemed with us. With such guar- 
antee for the " tone " of the bazaar, I was assured of 

When the opening night arrived, however, I was 
possessed with a sickening fear lest there should be 
no audience. A fairy village of booths filled the 
great ball-room at the Waldorf Astoria, and the 
generous merchants of New York had enriched them 
with rare and beautiful things. Mr. Edward Moran 
gave one of his famous marines. President Diaz 
sent a bronze group from the Paris Exposition, rep- 
resenting a reaper with his sickle — his two daughters 
binding his sheaves. Mr. Stanley McCormick pur- 
chased this for the office in Chicago of the McCormick 
reaper. Rich furs, tiger rugs, opera-cloaks, ladies' 
hats, silverware, watches, jewels, bicycles, a grand 
piano, and an automobile were included in our col- 
lection. I had written General Miles requesting him 
to open the bazaar, and he had come from Washing- 

444 My Day 

ton with Mrs. Miles. When I arrived on the open- 
ing night I was conducted to the small ball-room, 
where I found ten or more major-generals in full 
uniform, Governor Sayre from Texas, Mr. Aspiroz, 
the Mexican Ambassador, who had come from Wash- 
ington to bring us the present from President and 
Mrs. Diaz, and ladies of their company. On General 
Miles's arm, attended by these distinguished men and 
their wives, we proceeded through crowds of specta- 
tors to the lower ball-room. When I entered, I 
found three thousand people already assembled! 
The head of the armies of the United States received 
a magnificent welcome. From Mrs. Astor's box he 
made the opening address, followed by a most touch- 
ing narrative from Governor Sayre. My dear Mrs. 
Carlisle appeared in the box with a lovely wreath 
of laurel for General Miles. But I cannot describe 
the scene. Nothing like this bazaar has ever been 
seen in New York. There have been others — but 
without the cachet of military rank at home and 
royalty abroad. Telegrams from Mrs. McKinley; 
letter and a splendid silver present from Admiral 
and Mrs. Dewey ; letter and present of rare em- 
broidery from petite Madame Wu of the Chinese 
Embassy; letter and present of a silver flask from 
Madame Dreyfus, — these and many similar incidents 
cheered us in the hour of our triumph — an hour, 
too, of great bodily weariness. 

We rang down our curtain with eclat — our own 
Mark Twain just off his home-coming steamship 
responding at once to my letter of invitation, and 
making a happy speech. From my seat in the low 

My Day 445 

box I looked down upon the faces of my sons 
Roger and Willy, who seemed in anxious conference 
on some subject. They gave me an encouraging 
nod. I found they knew, as I did not, that a com- 
mittee was coming along the gallery to give me 
flowers, pin an emblem on my bosom, say dear 
things about my work. They were anxious lest 
their tired mother should prove unequal to the 
short speech of thanks demanded of her. 

We sent $51,000 to Galveston! I was per- 
mitted to select a special object for this large sum. 
I suggested the building of an orphan asylum in 
which should be gathered all homeless orphan chil- 
dren, irrespective of creed or country. 

Within a year the asylum was erected, furnished, 
and the hapless children gathered under its shelter. 
The mover in this grand charity said he could never 
have accomplished it without me — I could have 
done nothing without him ! He had his friends. 
He also had his enemies, who rated his charity as an 
" advertisement." Of all this I know nothing ; but 
I do know that this Orphan Asylum in Galveston 
was a grand and noble work ; and my old and val- 
ued friend, Mrs. Phcebe Hearst, has reason to be 
grateful that it was given to her son to build it. 
" What can we do for you ? " was asked of me by 
one of the managers at its opening. " Nothing," I 
answered; " the work is its own reward. But in the 
daily prayers of your orphan children, let them ask 
God's blessing upon all those who helped to give 
this home to His homeless children." 

God, I humbly trust, did so bless them all — 

446 My Day 

the eighty-year-old woman on the Pacific slope who 
sent a kerchief of her own making ; the noble ladies 
across the Atlantic who promptly gave their honored 
names and their money ; the little boy whose curly 
head I could see, moving among the crowd solicit- 
ing pennies for the orphans ; the good woman whose 
head had grown gray beneath the crown of Eng- 

But especially I wish, I pray, all blessings for the 
band of dear women who, coming often in rain and 
storm, worked with me from morning until night 
to help build a shelter for Galveston's homeless 

Judge Roger A. Pryor in 1900. 


THE years which had brought me such interest- 
ing work were full years also to my dear gen- 
eral. In June, 1888, he delivered an address 
to the graduating class at the Albany Law School — 
an address so inspiring, so highly commended at the 
time, that it should not be lost. He had been all 
his life intimately acquainted with the great legal 
lights abroad. They had given him his first aspira- 
tions, and been his inspired teachers ever after. 
And yet he could truthfully tell the American stu- 
dent : — 

" Nor need we travel abroad for examples and 
illustrations of forensic oratory in its highest perfec- 
tion ; for in the sublime passion of Patrick Henry, 
in the gorgeous vehemence of Choate, in the brilliant 
and abounding fancy of Prentiss, and in the majestic 
simplicity of Webster, we find at home every beauty 
and every power of eloquence displayed with an 
effect not inferior to the achievements of the mighty 
masters of antiquity." 

Diligently as he studied his profession, he found 
time for lighter, but not perhaps really more conge- 
nial, occupations. From time to time he addressed 
college societies on literary themes. He wrote for 
the North American Review, the Forum, and the 
" Encyclopaedia Britannica." Like his public ad- 
dresses, his writing was said to display ripe scholar- 


448 My Day 

ship and a clear, polished style. The highest note 
was never too high for him ! 

He would have had to be " made all over again," 
had he felt no interest in politics. He was born, 
as he often declared, " a Presbyterian and a Demo- 
crat," and he never faltered in allegiance to either. 
" Oh, God guide us aright," prayed a member of the 
body that framed the Westminster Catechism, "for 
thou knowest we are very determined" Having set out 
in one direction, the worthy brother doubted the 
power of the Almighty himself to alter his course ! 

Although my Husband refrained from political 
talk or discussion, he was glad to be sent to the 
convention that nominated Mr. Tilden. But prob- 
ably his first conspicuous appearance on the politi- 
cal theatre was the Gubernatorial Convention at 
Syracuse, of which he drew the platform, and which 
resulted in the candidacy of Mr. Cleveland. That 
platform was acknowledged to have aided materially 
in the election of Mr. Cleveland. Its author's ad- 
dress in presenting it was much applauded. 

Just as I closed my Jacksonville work, my gen- 
eral argued and won his great Sugar Trust case. 
" Had he done nothing else," said one whose word 
means much, " he could point to this case as an 
enduring monument." His rapid rise to fame at 
the bar is well known. " His legal victories would 
make a long list," says a contemporary writer, " but 
he never shrank from a suit because it was unpopu- 
lar or because the legal odds were many against its 
success, however just it might be. His deep knowl- 
edge of law, his readiness of resource, his care in 

My Day 449 

preparing his case, his, unfailing good humor, his 
pluck, ardor, and clearness in pleading, have made 
him influential and successful in the courts." Be- 
ginning with the Tilton-Beecher suit, he was coun- 
sel in the Morey Letter case and the Holland 
murder trial. He was also engaged in the suits 
against Governor Sprague in Rhode Island, and 
the Ames impeachment proceedings in Mississippi. 
He was the first to win a suit against the Elevated 
Railroad Company for damages to adjoining prop- 
erty. He was also counsel in the Hoyt will case, 
the Chicago anarchist trials, and now in the Sugar 
Trust suit, in which he was successful in the New 
York City courts as well as in the Court of Appeals. 
At the time of his direst distress he refused a suit 
against the good Peter Cooper. 

It was in 1889 that my husband suggested and 
conducted the suit against the Sugar Trust, the first 
litigation in any court or any state against combina- 
tions in restraint of trade ; and as he was successful 
against powerful opposition, he acquired a prestige 
which was the immediate occasion of his appointment 
to the bench. 

On October 9, 1890, Mr. John Russell Young 
gave a dinner in his honor at the Astor House — 
a dinner notable for the number of distinguished 
guests. Among them, Hon. Grover Cleveland, 
General Sherman, General Sickles, Henry George, 
Daniel Dougherty, Daniel Lamont, W. J. Florence, 
Mark Twain, John B. Haskin, Joseph Jefferson, 
Thomas Nast, Judge Brady, Judge Joseph F. Daly, 
Murat Halsted, Senator Hearst, — was ever such a 

450 My Day 

company ? Laying his hand on my husband's 
shoulder, General Sherman said : " We would have 
done all this for him long ago, but he had to be 
such a rebel ! " 

He had been appointed to fill the unexpired term 
of a retiring judge. The next year he came before 
the people for election, and was chosen by a great 
majority of many thousand votes to be judge of 
the Court of Pleas, and soon afterwards became 
judge of the Supreme Court of New York. 

He was welcomed to the bench by every possible 
expression of cordial good-will, confidence, admira- 
tion. Again there was no dissenting voice. At a 
celebration, not long after, of Grant's birthday, he 
was one of those invited to speak, and was thus 
introduced by General Horace Porter : " Gentle- 
men, we have a distinguished general here to-night 
who fought with us in the war — but not on the 
same side. It has been said that it is astounding 
how you like a man after you fight him ! That is 
the reason we have him here to-night to give him a 
warm reception. He always gave us a warm recep- 
tion. He used to take us, and provide for us, and 
was willing to keep us out of harm's way while 
hostilities lasted — unless sooner exchanged. He 
was always in the front, and his further appearance 
in the front to-night is a reflection upon the accuracy 
of our marksmanship. Not knowing how to punish 
him there, we brought him up to New York, and 
sentenced him to fourteen years' hard labor on the 

He brought to the bench the habits of self-denial 

My Day 451 

and unremitting study he had practised for twenty 
years. During all that time, and after, nobody ever 
saw him at a place of amusement, theatre, ball, or 
opera, and very rarely at a dinner-party. He knew 
no part of New York except the streets he traversed 
to and from his office or court room. His brief 
summer holidays were spent at the White Sulphur 
Springs in Virginia, where his studies continued. 
In 1895 he there addressed the Virginia Bar Asso- 
ciation on the influence of Virginia in the formation 
of the Federal Constitution, and I venture to say 
that whoever reads it in its printed form will find 
interesting historical facts not generally known. In 
accordance with my plan to permit his contem- 
poraries to tell the story of his public life, I copy 
one testimonial from a Richmond paper : " Judge 
Pryor made a splendid address. It was an ornate, 
learned, and eminently instructive production, and 
attested the jealous devotion of a distinguished son 
of Virginia for the old commonwealth, and his 
careful study of her political history. It did honor 
to the gentleman who made the address and to the 
profession of which he is a shining light." 

Whatever he wrote was always read aloud and 
copied at home, until my daughter Gordon left us, 
even the legal arguments so dimly understood by 
her. Apart from the technical difficulties, she could 
always receive some impression from his argument, 
and the impression upon her singularly clear, un- 
prejudiced mind was what he wished to know. Our 
own turn in reading aloud gave him a delicious 
opportunity to correct our pronunciation. His pa- 

452 My Day 

tience could never brook a mispronounced word — 
and alas, after Gordon married I found myself too 
old that I might learn. However, he patiently con- 
tinues to struggle with me. 

Once, at the White Sulphur Springs, a beautiful 
Virginia girl was under my care. My general was 
absorbed, — it was the summer he made his speech, 

— and did not render the homage to which the pair 
of blue eyes was accustomed. " I don't think the 
judge likes me," she complained; "he never has a 
word to say to me. He looks as if he's always 
thinking about something else." 

" Lizzie," I suggested, " you must mispronounce 
a word or two, and we'll see what effect that will 
have." We put our heads together and made out 
a list for her to commit to memory. At dinner she 
fastened her eye upon our victim, and commenced, 

— offering a flower, — " It's not very pretty, but the 

perfume', — " "I beg your pardon, Miss , 

per'fume, accent on first syllable ! " he exclaimed. 
" Oh, you're so kind, Judge ! This just illustrates 

— " "Illustrate, my dear young lady! — accent 
on second syllable, but pray go on." " I've never 
had anybody to tell me any of these things," she 
moaned. " If you only would — " " With pleas- 
ure ! A beautiful young lady should be perfect in 
speech, as in all things." The little minx played 
her part to perfection. Presently, overcome with 
the ludicrous situation, she excused herself, and my 
dear innocent remarked, as his admiring eyes fol- 
lowed her, " An uncommonly sensible girl that ! " 

I enjoyed a bit of newspaper gossip about this 

My Day 453 

peculiarity of my dear general. A physician was 
testifying before him in a malpractice case, and re- 
peatedly used the word "pare'sis," accenting the 
second syllable. The judge exhibited extreme rest- 
lessness, and finally ventured, "Excuse me — the 
word you mean is possibly par'esis ? " As the wit- 
ness proceeded, the offence was repeated and again 
corrected. " Now, your Honor," said the offender, 
" I concede all wisdom to the bench in legal matters, 
but I am a physician, and in the profession the word 
is pare'sis." " It is par'esis in my court," was the 
decision promptly handed down, with an emphasis 
that forbade appeal. 

I am sorry I cannot record his services to his 
country and his profession during the seven years 
before he was overtaken by the age-limit prescribed 
by New York law — his championship of maligned 
women, his decision that divorce cases should 
not be tried secretly but must be held in open 
court — now become a law — his restriction of 
the right of naturalization to at least knowledge 
of the English language. I cannot go into 
these learned subjects as I trust some one of 
the profession will do some day. I only record 
that my dear general, as was conceded by every one, 
fulfilled the sacred trust — " he was a father to the 
poor, and the cause that he knew not he searched 

This public recognition of his ability and worth, 
with its opportunity for larger usefulness, came at 
last as the crown of his long and heroic struggle. The 
war had left him with nothing but a ragged uniform, 

454 My Day 

his sword, a wife, and seven children, — his health, 
his occupation, his place in the world, gone ; his 
friends and comrades slain in battle ; his Southern 
homeimpoverishedand desolate. He had no profes- 
sion, no rights as a citizen, no ability to hold office. 
That he conquered the fate which threatened to de- 
stroy him, — and conquered it through the apprecia- 
tion awarded by his sometime enemies, — is a strik- 
ing illustration of the possibilities afforded by our 
country ; where not only can the impoverished 
refugee from other lands find fortune and happiness, 
but where her own sons, prostrate and ruined after a 
dreadful fratricidal strife, can bind their wounds, 
take up their lives again, and finally win reward for 
their labors. 


Reminiscences of Peace and War 

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"Few persons now living had a better opportunity to be in, and a part of, 
the life of the national capital an-d mingle with its social and political lead- 
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than Mrs. Roger A. Pryor. Still fewer could have had the power to absorb 
the vital and charming side of it, and to record it so entertainingly as she 
has done. She was not only a keen observer of all that transpired during 
those memorable days, but the manner in which she has recorded her rec- 
ollections is done with charming grace. It is a pathetic story of woman's 
heroism and devotion, sad and amusing by turns, and always interesting. 
It is told in a modest way by one who bravely faced every deprivation and 
returned to her desolate home with a cheery, hopeful spirit which manifests 
itself in every page, as it did in the days following the war when by her self- 
sacrifice she aided her husband to attain, in the face of great odds, eminent 
rank in the bar and bench of New York." — Boston Herald. 

" Nothing which has yet been produced excels in charm of style, in tem- 
perate and modern statement of facts, and in vivid portrayal of social char- 
acteristics and incidents of private and military life than the thoroughly 
delightful book of reminiscences just completed by Mrs. Roger A Pryor. 
Mrs. Pryor's narrative . . . gives a wealth of information, which is essen- 
tial to the true understanding of history, and in a shape that must charm 
and delight the reader. Americans who would see the full conditions of 
the South in its great crisis have been placed under a debt of lasting obli- 
gation to the talented author of 'Reminiscences of Peace and War.' " — 
Philadelphia Public Ledger. 

The Birth of the Nation: Jamestown, \ 607 

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" She has weighed the reputations of men in the balance, and one feels that 
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The Mother of Washington and Her Times 

Illustrated. Cloth, 8vo, $2.30 net 

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than any novel. . . . The illustrations of the volume are many and beau- 
tiful, particularly the portraits in color." — Boston 'Transcript. 



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A Selected List of Biographies and Autobiographies 

ACTON, (Lord) J. E. E. 

Letters to Mary Gladstone, with Memoir by H. Paul 

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A Diary 

Edited by H. Allingham and D. Radford. 

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Diary, Life, and Letters of Madame d'Arblay 

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Some Secret Pages of his History 

By M. Busch. 

Portraits. Cloth, 8vo, $10.00 net 


Letters of Dr. John Brown 

Edited by his son and D. W. Forrest. 

Cloth, 8vo, $4.00 net 

Life of Lord Randolph Churchill 

By W. Spencer Churchill. 

Two Volumes. Portraits and Illustrations. 8vo, $9.00 net 

My Memoirs 

Translated by E. M. Waller. 

Six Volumes. Illustrated. Cloth, i2mo, each $1.75 net 


The Life of Oliver Ellsworth 

By William Garrott Brown. 

Illustrated. Cloth, 8vo, $2.00 net 


Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn 

Edited by Austin Dobson. 

Three Volumes. Illustrated. Cloth, 8vo, $8.00 net 


Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin 

Edited by A. H. Smyth. 

Ten Volumes. Illustrated. Cloth, l2mo, $15.00 net 


The Life of W. E. Gladstone 

By John Morley. 

Three Volumes. Portraits. Cloth, 8vo, $10.50 net 
Same in Half Morocco, $17.50 net 

Robert Y. Hayne and His Times 

By Theodore D. Jervey. 

Illustrated. Cloth, 8vo, $3.00 net 

The Memoirs of Prince Chlodwig of Hohenlohe 

Authorized by Prince Alexander of Hohenlohe. Edited by F. Curtius. 

Two Volumes. Cloth, 8vo, $6.00 net 

Personal Reminiscences of Sir Henry Irving 

By Bram Stoker. 

Two Volumes. Illustrated. Cloth, 8vo, $7.50 net 


Abraham Lincoln : The Man of the People 

By Norman Hapgood. 

Illustrated. Cloth, 8vo, $2.00 net 

Abraham Lincoln : The Boy and the Man 

By James Morgan. 

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Cloth, 8vo, $3.50 net 

The Making of an American 

An Autobiography. 

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Theodore Roosevelt : The Boy and the Man 

By James Morgan. 

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Life of William Shakespeare 

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Shakespeare : Poet, Dramatist, and Man 

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The Life of John Wesley 

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Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate 

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Rambling Recollections 

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